Over the past decades, many scholars and practitioners have come up with various definitions of leadership, trying to help us understand the subject. Here I try to simplify leadership by breaking it down into its various components, then explain one by one to help your clarity. Firstly, here is how I define leadership. Leadership is achieving a pre-meditated goal with and through people voluntarily using cooperation, understanding and influence.

Firstly there has to be a goal. Leadership targets to achieve that goal. The goal is not accidental, it is premeditated, set and shared by the leader. The leader achieves the goal with people. This mean the leader encourages the people to participate. The people are part of the leader’s army and they work together to achieve the goal. Through inspiration, the leader gets the cooperation of the people, each doing what they can to aid the achievement of the goal. With means from the beginning. The leader doesn’t bring a goal and impose it to the people. The people and the leader are on the same page, they set the goals together, plan together and act together. Achieving with people doesn’t start as execution, it starts from the beginning. This is important in making people feel ownership of the goals. Once people feel left out, there is no commitment and often leaders fail. The leader achieves the goal through people. This means the leader inspires the people to engage in actions that cause the achievement of the goal. It is the people, though their skills, talents, knowledge, experience and relationships who work to achieve the goal. The leader sets the goal together with the people, then motivates and inspires them to achieve, creating a conducive environment and providing resources that help the achievement of the goal. To achieve, the leader has to play the role of coach and mentor.

Voluntary means there is no force in leadership, it’s not slavery. The people, out of their own will and interest work with the leader to achieve the goal. It is out of choice, not manipulation. The duty of the leader is perhaps to use charisma and persuasion to get people to believe that what needs to be done is important and mutually beneficial. Once people believe in what needs to be done, they voluntarily commit to it, working with the leader towards it. Cooperation means the leader ensures that the people are working in harmony, minimizing and managing conflicts and antagonistic behaviours which might get in the way of the achievement of the goal. The leader builds the team and makes sure they work together well, keeping them focused on the goal at hand. Rivalry, jealousy and selfish tendencies among team members might get in the way of goal achievement. Every team has its own dynamics and a leader has to be strong to handle them. The leader plays the role of facilitator, making sure people are reminded of their connectedness. The leader emphasizes and rewards team effort and focuses on encouraging contribution to team effort.

Influence means the leader sways the people to work on the goal. He encourages them, guide them, stimulates them, and sways them to work on the goal. This influence causes the people to see the situation as the leader does and hence commit to the goal and work towards it. The result is, goals are achieved. In case you got lost, we were just trying to define leadership. I hope the definition helps you to see what leadership really is, what leaders really do, how they do what they do and why they do what they do. All the best in your leadership.