1. Business Ideas
  2. Business Plans
  3. Startup Basics
  4. Startup Funding
  5. Franchising
  6. Success Stories
  7. Entrepreneurs
  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Finances
  3. Your Team
  4. Technology
  5. Social Media
  6. Security
  1. Get the Job
  2. Get Ahead
  3. Office Life
  4. Work-Life Balance
  5. Home Office
  1. Leadership
  2. Women in Business
  3. Managing
  4. Strategy
  5. Personal Growth
  1. HR Solutions
  2. Financial Solutions
  3. Marketing Solutions
  4. Security Solutions
  5. Retail Solutions
  6. SMB Solutions
Lead Your Team Leadership

30 Ways to Define Leadership

30 Ways to Define Leadership
Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

What does leadership mean to you? Every business owner and CEO wants to be a good leader, but how can you be a good leader if you don't know what leadership really is?

Unfortunately, leadership doesn't have a one-size-fits-all definition. We all have our own ideas about what it means to be a good leader. For example, some people think leadership means guiding others to complete a particular task, while others believe it means motivating the members of your team to be their best selves. But while the definitions may vary, the general sentiments remain the same: leaders are people who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way.

Business News Daily asked 30 business owners and experts to define what leadership means to them. Their ideas may just lead you to create your own definition of leadership. Here's what they had to say:

"Leadership is having a vision, sharing that vision and inspiring others to support your vision while creating their own." – Mindy Gibbins-Klein, founder, REAL Thought Leaders

"Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished." – Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO, Snuggwugg

"Effective leadership is providing the vision and motivation to a team so they work together toward the same goal, and then understanding the talents and temperaments of each individual and effectively motivating each person to contribute individually their best toward achieving the group goal." – Stan Kimer, president, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer

"Leadership is the art of serving others by equipping them with training, tools and people as well as your time, energy and emotional intelligence so that they can realize their full potential, both personally and professionally." – Daphne Mallory, family business expert, The Daphne Mallory Company

"Leadership is being bold enough to have vision and humble enough to recognize achieving it will take the efforts of many people — people who are most fulfilled when they share their gifts and talents, rather than just work. Leaders create that culture, serve that greater good and let others soar." – Kathy Heasley, founder and president, Heasley & Partners

"My perspective of a leader is an individual who knows the ins and outs about the business so they can empathize with followers. In addition to being a positive influence on the people they are leading, leadership is about setting the tone, motivating, inspiring, thinking big, and never [giving] up when others feel like quitting." – Alexis Davis, founder and designer, Hoo-Kong by Alexis Davis

"A true leader is secure in creating a framework that encourages others to tap into their own skills and ideas and freely contribute to the whole of the project or company." – Judy Crockett, owner, Interactive Marketing & Communication

"In my experience, leadership is about three things: To listen, to inspire and to empower. Over the years, I've tried to learn to do a much better job listening actively, making sure I really understand the other person's point of view, learning from them, and using that basis of trust and collaboration to inspire and empower. [It's about] setting the bar high, and then giving them the time and resources to do great work." – Larry Garfield, president, Garfield Group

"I define leadership as knowing when to be in front to lead and guide a team during the journey, and when to step back and let others take the lead. Much like an athlete who knows exactly what position to move to on the field at any given time, a true business leader understands the delicate balance of how to help others become leaders, fuel career ambitions, then give them the chance to shine." – Dan Schoenbaum, CEO, Redbooth

"Too many people view management as leadership. It's not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others up and working toward a common mission build influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way." – Kurt Uhlir, CEO and co-founder, Sideqik

"Leadership is when someone is willing to stand up front to be either the target or the hero to take responsibility for the success or failure of a given goal. Not everyone has the guts to be a leader and the [take] personal risks that they may encounter." – Darlene Tenes, founder and designer, CasaQ [5 Leadership Weaknesses and How to Fix Them ]

"Leadership is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risk to create reward." – Katie Easley, founder, Kate Ryan Design

"A leader is someone who has the clarity to know the right things to do, the confidence to know when she's wrong and the courage to do the right things even when they're hard." – Darcy Eikenberg, founder, RedCapeRevolution.com

"Leadership is the behavior that brings the future to the present, by envisioning the possible and persuading others to help you make it a reality." – Matt Barney, founder and CEO, LeaderAmp

"Leadership is caring more about the cause and the people in your company than about your own personal pain and success. It is about having a greater vision of where your company is trying to go while leaving the path open for others to grow into leaders." – Jarie Bolander, COO and co-founder, Lab Sensor Solutions

"A leader is a person who takes you where you will not go alone." – Susan Ascher, CEO, founder and president, SusanAscher.com

"Leadership means using one's influence to help guide others in successfully achieving a goal without desire for recognition, without worry of what others think and with awareness of issues, internal or external, that might change the results sought." – Marie Hansen, dean of the college of business, Husson University

"Leadership is not about finding ways to lead better or to motivate your team. It's about being there from the beginning as equals and becoming a mentor when they need you to be one." –Michael Womack, COO and co-founder, hovelstay.com

"Leadership styles differ, but at the core, good leaders make the people they are leading accomplish more than they otherwise would. The most effective leaders do this not through fear, intimidation or title, but rather by building consensus around a common goal." – Tom Madine, CEO and president, Worldwide Express

"A leader is a mix of a visionary and a left brainer — an inspiration to others who uplifts one to walk beside him, not behind him. A leader lets go of his/her ego and taps into his soul, consistently stretching himself, challenging himself, growing within." – Brigitta Hoeferle, founder and owner, Montessori Kinder International School

"Leadership is inspiring others to pursue your vision within the parameters you set, to the extent that it becomes a shared effort, a shared vision and a shared success." – Steve Zeitchik, CEO of Focal Point Strategies

"Leadership in the business world requires harnessing the energy and efforts of a group of individuals so that their outlook is advanced from an unremarkable Point A to a very desirable Point B — from bad to good, slow to fast, red to black. During that process, leadership manifests in projecting your expertise in a way that gains the confidence of others. Ultimately, leadership becomes about trust — when that confidence inspires them to align their vision and level of commitment for the betterment of the company." – Phil Blair, president, Manpower Staffing Services

"For me, leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What's more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective." – Kendra Coleman, consultant, Sheppard Moscow

"Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day." – Jonas Falk, CEO, OrganicLife

"Leadership is influencing others by your character, humility and example. It is recognizable when others follow in word and deed without obligation or coercion." – Sonny Newman, president, EE Technologies

"Leadership is actions committed by a person or group that produce an output or result. It simply helps people to get things done. It is not based on position in a hierarchy." – Robert Preziosi, professor and former chairman of management, Nova Southeastern University's Huizenga School of Business

"Leadership is the collective action of everyone you influence. Your behavior — your actions and your words — determines how you influence. Our job as leaders is to energize whatever marshals action within others." – David Casullo, president, Bates Communications

"Leadership is the ability to inspire motivation in others to move toward a desirable vision. While management is focused on tasks, leadership is focused on the person. All in all, the best leadership drives change and long-lasting motivation." – Josh Kuehler, president, Internal Consistency

"Leadership is simply causing other people to do what the leaders want. Good leadership, whether formal or informal, is helping other people rise to their full potential while accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization. All members of an organization who are responsible for the work of others have the potential to be good leaders, if properly developed." – Bob Mason, founder, RLM Planning and Leadership

"Leadership is employing your skills and knowledge, leveraged by your attitude to get the results you desire." – Philip Gafka, founder, LEAP Associates