Leadership is the practice of social influence, required to make change in an
This is a primer on the concept of leadership for any member of a software
What is Leadership?
Leadership is the practice of social influence. The function of leadership is
to produce change. The skills of leadership are those required to attain the
influence sufficient to produce that change.
What Leadership Is Not
Leadership is not defined by seniority, title, or position in a company’s
hierarchy. One does not need a title to lead. Granted, a title gives one social
license to practice leadership, but a person with a management title is not
necessarily a leader.
Leadership is not defined by the possession of any certain personal attributes.
No specific personality characteristics are required to lead.
Leadership versus Management
Leadership and management are not the same thing. They are distinct but
complementary systems of action. Managers add structure and promote stability
of work systems. In contrast, leaders press for change. Most companies are
over-managed but under-led.
Management plans, schedules, and budgets.
Leadership sets direction and strategy.
Management organizes and staffs.
Leadership aligns people.
Management controls and problem-solves.
Leadership motivates and inspires.
The Purpose of Leadership
The purpose of leadership is to effect positive change. It is for creating a
great mission, for aligning to that mission, and for inspiring to accomplish
the mission. It is for improving team effectiveness.
(Aside: One way to measure team effectiveness is to use team
as a proxy. Engaged teams are 4 times more likely to be successful than
The Skills of Leadership
Leaders must be great communicators. Leaders must understand people very well;
they must have emotional intelligence.
Leaders must must have the ability to acquire and analyze information required
for constructing a vision. They must have imagination for creating the vision.
They must have the ability to communicate the vision.
We can deduce from the above what leaders do. They:
- Define the mission
- Formulate strategies
- Communicate the vision
- Create alignment
- Build culture
- Inspire effort
- Facilitate engagement
- Build the influence required to lead
- Make change in other ways
- “What Leaders Really Do”
by retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter, in Harvard
Business Review, December 2001 (first published in 1990).
- “What Is Leadership?"
by Kevin Kruse, Forbes, April 2013.
- “What Makes a Leader” on HBR
by Daniel Goleman. The thesis is that emotional intelligence is necessary
for effective leadership. Intelligence and technical skills are merely