The impact of real leadership – and why we need a new definition


In a recent conversation over tapas in Barcelona, I got into a heated discussion about who was responsible for the deadlock in the US government.  It took me several minutes to realise that the way I was using the term “leadership” was very different to that of my colleague. For him, Obama was the leadership. I took a much broader view of leadership being the responsibility of everyone in the Senate and the Congress.

It got me thinking about the definition. When are we being leaders? It it really only about the position you hold? What about the impact we are all able to have – intentional or not?

In a great TED Talk by Drew Dudley, he talks of moments where we unintentionally have a profound impact on someone.

I love his point of re-defining leadership:

We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments, how many of them we create, how many of them we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward, and how many of them we say thank you for.

With this definition, we can all step into a place where we can own our impact. Let us all be leaders – in our own way, in our family, our community or at work. Some people will be able to change the world and for the rest of us, let us start with changing one person’s understanding of themselves.

….if you can change one person’s understanding of what they’re capable of, one person’s understanding of how much people care about them, one person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing. And if we can understand leadership like that, I think if we can redefine leadership like that, I think we can change everything.

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