Ten years ago I heard former U.S. Army General and first Gulf War Commander Norman Schwartzkopf speak at a leadership conference. He told us that day that defining leadership was similar to the Supreme Court’s definition of obscenity, “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.” He proceeded to try to define it anyway with, “getting others to things they ordinarilly wouldn’t do because they want to do it.”
In preparing for a leadership keynote address I was asked to deliver recently at a regional martial arts school, I decided I needed a definition that rang true for me. Based on my 27 years in business and 20 years in minor league professional baseball management, and now 10 years studying business success and successful leadership in all facets of life, this is what I came up with:
“Inspiring others to do something they ordinarily would not do, and/or coaching them to perform at an even higher level than they ordinarily would perform, if left on their own.”
Think of the best leaders in your life. Why do you see them as such? It was probably because they inspired you to go for something by being a role model in how they went after the same thing. Additionally, they took responsibility for their role in inspiring you to go for it and continued to help you along the way by coaching and guiding you to perform at the level necessary to achieve success at it.