“Leadership” seems to be one of those words that is thrown around in a very overused way today. Not unlike “success” and “motivational” and “outside the box.” What the heck do those words really mean? The answer lies in a slight variation of that question; What do those words mean TO YOU?

One perspective on “leadership” is that there are 3 types of “leaders.”

The first is a leader by title. If you go to any kindergarten classroom in this country, teachers elect “leaders” every day. To be a “leader,” one does not have to have any special skills, knowledge, or credentials. They just need to be the first to line up that day. They are “the leader”. So what does the teacher tell the other kids in the class to do? That’s right… “follow the leader”. Now, in kindergarten, following the leader is an effective and usually efficient way of moving multiple children in an orderly fashion. However, in adulthood, following the leader who is nothing more than a “leader” in the title is often neither efficient nor effective.

The second type is a good leader. There are people who have been put in a leadership role of some kind who have respect for their team, their team has respect for them, they have things they need to accomplish and they accomplish those things. Quite efficient. quite effective. It is what it is.

The third type is a great leader. There isn’t as big a jump from good to great as you think. The difference is quite simple. “Great Leaders” do not create followers; “Great leaders” create other leaders. That last line is worth rereading. How do they do that? The first type of “leader” goes through the motions and just “walks their dogs” every day. The second type of “leader” puts real effort into “leading” a team of followers. He or she is often good at “getting others done” and “making sure others are on task.” “Great leadership” is less about looking over people’s shoulders and more about empowering others to look over their own shoulders.

Of course, we all know that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish you feed him for the rest of his life. That’s the difference between “great leaders” and any other type of “leader.”

What kind of leader are you? You may have many leadership titles in your life: Director, Manager, Mom, Dad, Friend, Coach, Teacher, Business Owner. Are you walking dogs or are you empowering others? If you’re not sure of the answer… look at the results you’re getting. They will yell the answer at you.

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