Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


What is Leadership

Volume: April 2012

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

Many of you have read or heard my definition of leadership: “Leaders impact culture.” But what really is this animal we call leadership?


Is leadership strategic planning? Yes. It is enabling the strategic process in such a manner that it most benefits your team. This typically calls for the leader to be a participant in the actual strategic planning meeting. It also calls for the leader to ensure that a meaningful action plan is crafted during the strategic planning process. This is mission critical, since an action plan leads to effective execution of the strategic plan.


Is leadership management? Yes, and so much more. As Colin Powell put it: “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” In other words, management and its functional components is a subset of leadership.


Is leadership speaking publicly? Most assuredly. All great leaders have one common quality: The ability to move groups of people. And you cannot move groups of people towards positive action without possessing the ability to effectively speak in public. By the way, this carries over to presentation skills as well. Effective leaders are able to make pointed, powerful presentations.


Is leadership setting priorities? Yes, from a visioning perspective. This may sound odd, but it is more important for leaders to ensure that the priorities are communicated than it is for leaders to create organizational priorities. In sum, terrific leaders communicate priorities in a manner that reduces confusion, and enables a vast majority of the team to row in the same direction.


Is leadership delegating? You betcha. Leadership involves delegating tasks so clearly that nothing falls through the cracks. Many of our clients utilize Leadership Simplified’s Delegation Checklist in order to ensure effective delegation. Whatever process you embrace, make certain to share timely feedback with team members who carry out your delegation requests.


Is leadership coaching? Certainly. The coaching and developing of team members is a foundational skill and activity for successful leaders. Coaching increases the abilities of team members. Enhanced abilities is closely followed by increased productivity. In addition, coaching others broadens the skill-base of the work unit, which leads to a more flexible team. The key to effective coaching is to do it frequently. The resulting return on investment for your time is nothing less than handsome. 


Is leadership enabling collaboration? Yes. Creating a culture of healthy teamwork is a paramount function of a leader. Whether it is driving workplace teambuilding initiatives or educating team members on the proper use of a collaboration tool known as a working agreement, the leader takes center stage. Yes, leaders impact culture. And there is nothing that you can do that is more important than creating a culture that is genuinely collaborative.


Bottom Line: Leadership involves taking charge, yet sometimes being a participant. It calls for coaching others, serving others, delegating, and encouraging. Leadership demands high ethics, patience, and consistency, while simultaneously requiring creativity, action, and results. Being an excellent leader is one of the hardest things to do on the planet. That is why terrific leaders are so highly-valued. That is why successful leaders derive deep satisfaction from the amazing accomplishments realized by their teams and followers 


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