Sunday 12 October 2008

Is Leadership a Noun or a Verb?

Is technical leadership something you know or something you do? Is it a finite thing you can point to, and check off a list, or is it an ongoing process, more akin to a journey? Let's look at what it means in practice...

Firstly you have to have some answers - or better yet know the right questions. You need to have a vision, and preferably some ideas on how to break that down into Big Goals. You need to define what success looks like for your team, and know what sorts of things contribute to that success and what sorts of things distract you from it. Maybe this is leadership the noun?

All good work so far, but worth nothing to your organization if no one knows about it - who is it that's supposed to be working towards these goals? Who is it that you depend upon to realize your vision?

So the next thing you need is for everyone to proverbially Get On Board. You have to communicate that vision as simply as possible and help every individual understand exactly how they can contribute to it. The whole team has to get emotional about it, believe in it, and live it through how they do their jobs each day. Perhaps this is leadership the verb?

So perhaps the answer is both? I certainly think so. Share an empty vision or set the wrong goals and you won't get where you need to be. Keep quiet about your plans and how they can be achieved and you rob the organization of huge value.

Oh and don't forget to keep your eye on the horizon - things change and from time to time that means adapting your strategy or losing ground!

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