Leading change
Published in

Leading change

Reflections on leadership

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

What is leadership?

There are many definitions of what leadership is in multiple contexts, but there are some consistent themes(Ref). Typically, these components are essential:

  • A level of influence, social influence, rather than authority and power
  • Other people, in order to influence someone, but this does not imply any direct reporting relationship (not a manager)
  • A vision and goal, as leadership is not accidental, but intentional
  • Initiative, not merely executing on a vision or goal, but taking personal initiative to go beyond obvious expectations
  • Accountability and responsibility, which may be the most controversial point if we listen to daily news, but to genuinely lead you inevitably must take a level of responsibility and be accountable for your choices and actions.

A different perspective

With this in mind, there may be many people in some form of leadership role that are not typically recognised as a leaders, and probably many assumed to be leaders that actually lack the core qualities of true leadership.

  • Activists (e.g. Malala, Greta Thunberg) — Often doing the inconvenient, to get our attention, sometimes at their own expense. They create debate and engage a lot of people topics that matters to all of us.
  • Comedians (e.g. John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Hassan Menaj) — Understanding the complex landscape of global, political, economic, social events is really hard, especially in the context of world leaders claiming “fake news” etc. Although comedians are often biased, they are typically transparent to us about their biases, and they help us translate complexity into something we can relate to whether we agree with them or not.
  • Guardians of knowledge (e.g. Jimmy Wales, Noam Chomsky, Shekar Gupta) — By working diligently for our rights to factual data and information, representing deep knowledge and translating this in easily accessible manner so that we can create an opinion about what to believe.
  • Most importantly, the invisible all around us (e.g. the barber or barista that contribute to building local communities, the farmer who chooses to deliver organic produce straight to the end customer, the youtuber who opens our world to a new perspective, the craftsman who diligently refines and shares his craft, the volunteers of the local community sports club) — They take initiatives to cultivate communities, challenge our thinking, act as catalysts for positive change (at least some of them), improve themselves for the benefit of others, guide, coach, mentor people to grow.



Reflections on leadership in context of cultural and organisational change

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store