Leadership means different things to different people. And understanding what makes someone a leader can depend on their profession and their leadership style.
That’s why defining such a simple phrase can be such a complicated task. BusinessNewsDaily asked business leaders to define leadership and tell us what makes a good leader.
"Leadership is accomplishing things that reach beyond solitary abilities by acting — and getting others to act — with a maturity that surpasses limited self-interest." -- John Baker, president of READY Thinking, an organizational and leadership development firm.
"To paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, 'leadership is the art of getting others to do things you want to be done and feel good about it.' I would go so far as to say the goal is to get the person to embrace the "mission" and own it." -- Dale Hamby, a former Army major and a teacher at Harrisburg University.
"A leader isn't limited to those with positional authority. Leadership, instead, is defined alternatively as someone who influences others to achieve a common goal. This would represent the work and contributions of anyone who serves in this capacity." -- Barbara Steel, senior vice president of leadership effectiveness at Zenger Folkman and co-author of "How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths" (McGraw-Hill, 2012),
"A leader comes up with new ideas for his or her business or venture, innovates further as those ideas develop, and makes sure to choose the right people to get the ideas and innovations realized. Some business schools push the view that one can be an innovator or a manager, but not both. I think that’s flat wrong — one has to be both an innovator and a manager to be a good leader." -- Dan Biederman, president of Biederman Redevelopment Ventures and The Bryant Park Corp.
"Leadership is getting people to want to follow. That requires engaging them passionately, from the heart, and requires persuading people to change. Management is tactical; leadership is strategic." -- Tom Kennedy, a certified management consultant and principal of The Kennedy Group.
"Leadership is when you give of yourself for the greater good of others with no expectation of reward. It's that willingness to jump in a ditch with your whole team so that the next time they fall in, everyone understands the best and easiest way to get out. As I deal mostly with military families who need guidance towards a sustainable future, leadership is absolutely concerned with getting down in the trenches to do the dirty work." -- Roxanne Reed, executive director of the Military Spouse Foundation.
"Leadership is a mindset of total personal accountability for the results and outcomes produced without fault, blame, guilt or any manner of finger-pointing when results are bad. Leadership is being personally accountable whether someone is going to hold you accountable or not." -- Linda Galindo, consultant, speaker, educator and author of "The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success — No Nonsense, No Excuses" (Jossey-Bass, 2009).
"(Leadership is) the ability to make your followers believe that you possess superior knowledge of the situation, greater wisdom to cope with the unknown, or greater moral force. Unless you seem to have more of these things than the average follower does, they won't follow you around the first corner." -- Tom Hopkins, author of 14 books, including “How to Master the Art of Selling" (Business Plus, 2005).
"I believe that a great leader is defined by one factor only: the people he or she leads. If the people are focused, driven, committed, results-oriented, happy and positive, that is indeed the sign of a great leader. If you have great results but none of those other things, then you have a dictator — and that leadership style is not sustainable. Leaders who put themselves at the bottom of their organization are truly great. It's like handing people a fish instead of teaching them to fish. If you're the kind of leader who constantly gives them a fish, you need to be one outstanding fisherman." -- Rick Campbell, president and CEO of ICAT Logistics.
"True leadership is being proactive, especially when it comes to addressing the not-so-pleasurable events that sometimes plague the workplace. The ability to anticipate an imminent roadblock and tackle it in a proactive manner is what leads to progress. Einstein once said, 'Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.'" -- Michael Raanan, president of the Landmark Tax Group tax firm.
"Leadership is self-differentiation. It’s simply setting yourself apart from others and often times setting an example. It’s not about being in charge or power, but rather caring for others and helping them achieve a common goal." -- Michael Flanigan, vice president at Expressionary.
"Through my professional experience, I've come to discover the seemingly contradictory truth that a great leader is defined by his or her teamwork skills. As John C. Maxwell says, 'A boss says Go and a leader says Let's Go.' Leadership is demonstrated through a strong dedication to a team and promoting collaboration, whether you work in a startup or corporate environment." -- Brittany Dowell, director of publication relations at Digital Talent Agents.
"The key to leadership is having a vision, and being strong enough to say no and not try to please everybody. That's a recipe for failure. Leadership is practiced through attitude and actions, rather than words and memos." -- Matt Mickiewicz, founder of Flippa.com, DeveloperAuction.com, 99designs, and Sitepoint.com.
"Leadership is the willingness to speak up when it's easier to stay silent, hold yourself accountable when you have excuses at the ready and inspire without intimidation or the fear another will surpass you. A leader shows more empathy than ego and remains dedicated to the betterment of the whole and not the advancement of one." -- Brenda Della Casa, director of online content and community at Preston Bailey Designs.
"A leader is someone who actually listens. Someone who takes advice and implements it. Most leaders need to listen more and talk less." -- Jeffery Hayzlett, CEO of The Hayzlett Group.