The True Meaning of Leadership

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    • 00:00


    • 00:15

      MARK ALLEN: My name is Mark Allen,and I'm a professor at Pepperdine University'sGraziadio Business School.And I teach courses in management and leadership.I've authored three books on management.And a few years ago, I was invited to Mumbai, India, whereI was honored with the Global Training and DevelopmentLeadership Award.And I was recently named one of the top 100 influencers

    • 00:38

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: in human resources.So every organization talks about how importantleadership is.The problem is, there isn't a single universally accepteddefinition of leadership.

    • 00:59

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: Every individual thinks of a different thingwhen you say leadership.Every organization means different things whenthey say they want leadership.So there is no generally agreed upon definition.There are literally hundreds of books published every yearon leadership.And it's not like they all define leadership the same way.As matter of fact, they probably alldefine it slightly differently.

    • 01:20

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: Rather than give you what I thinka definition of leadership is or pick one outof the books, what's most importantis that you hone in on a definition of leadershipthat's meaningful to you or that each organization selectsor creates a definition of leadership that'smeaningful within their context.

    • 01:46

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: So there are a lot of different theories of leadership.And one of them is the trait theory.And that posits that if you are born with certain traits,you'll be a good leader.One thing about this theory is itimplies that given the age old question,are leaders born or made, the trait theoryleans more towards leaders are made.

    • 02:09

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: And one of the problems with this theoryis it assumes that if you have the various traitsof leadership that you will be a good leader.But it turns out not everybody whopossesses that same set of traitsalways turns into a good leader.In order to be a good leader, you've got to lead.And lead is an action verb.So just possessing traits doesn't make you a leader.

    • 02:31

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: You've got to do something with those traits.And so leadership is more about what you do than what you have.It's not about having the right stuff.It's about what you do with your leadership capabilities.

    • 02:52

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: One of the best ways to hone in on a meaningful definitionof leadership for you is to think about this question.Who is a great leader?So who comes to mind when I say a great leader?And it's interesting to look at the types of answerspeople give.People who typically give me answersranging from Jesus Christ to Adolf Hitler,

    • 03:14

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: from General Patton to Michael Jordan.And, in fact, in different ways, thereare a lot of people who have beengreat leaders through history.One theory of leadership is situational leadership,that the situation matters.And there's certainly some situational aspectto leadership.

    • 03:35

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: So, for example, I don't know if I'd want Michael Jordan leadingan army into battle.On the other hand, if we're down by two points with five secondsto go, I don't want to give the ball to General George Patton.But just because there is a situational aspectto leadership, that doesn't necessarilymean it's all about luck.

    • 03:56

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: Michael Jordan picked up a basketball.General Patton went into the army.People put themselves in situationswhere they can succeed.So as you think about who came to your mindwhen we think of great leaders, wecan think of people like Martin Luther King.And we can certainly look at the traits he had.But we also need to look at what he actually

    • 04:16

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: did, what he went out and accomplished as a leader.And the other thing to think aboutis when I said who is a great leader, most of the time,people answer with famous people from history.But not every great leader has beena famous historical figure.There are probably people you have known, met,

    • 04:36

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: worked with, worked for who are great leaders.Teachers, parents, clergy, bosses, colleagues.So great leaders don't have to lead armiesinto battle or run governments.Great leaders can happen anywhere.And so let's think about what are the actions, whatare the things people do that make them great leaders.

    • 05:05

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: One of the important questions about leadershipis, what's the difference between great leadershipand great management?And it turns out great managers typically are great leaders,but not every great leader is a great manager.Warren Bennis once wrote that management

    • 05:27

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: is doing things right, while leadershipis doing the right thing.And that's a nice kind of pithy way of thinkingabout the distinction.Years later, Warren Bennis wrote that managementis about getting people to do what needs to be done,while leadership is getting peopleto want to do what needs to be done.

    • 05:48

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: And so that's an important distinction,because I think management is more about getting results,while leadership is more about influencing people.And so a good starting point for a definition of leadershipis that differentiation between getting peopleto do what needs to be done, which you can do with rewards,

    • 06:08

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: or incentives, or punishment, or getting peopleto want to do what needs to be done.And that involves more about influence and inspiration.One of my favorite quotes about leadershipcomes from one of the least quoted American presidents,John Quincy Adams.And President Adams said, if your actions

    • 06:30

      MARK ALLEN [continued]: inspire others to dream more, do more, be more, or become more,than you're a leader.So as you think about these various definitionsand perspectives on leadership, what makes sense to you,and what is the right definition of leadership in your context?[MUSIC PLAYING]

The True Meaning of Leadership

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Professor Mark Allen, Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University, discusses ways to think about defining leadership.

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The True Meaning of Leadership

Professor Mark Allen, Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University, discusses ways to think about defining leadership.

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