John Whitehead en Leadership Development, Leadership, Coaching and Mentoring Associate Executive Coach • Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching 1/7/2016 · 2 min de lectura · +800

What is “Leadership” to you?

This is a question that I will ask students when I start teaching the Leadership in Complex Environments course at UBC What is “Leadership” to you?Okanagan this coming academic year. My goal is to have the 4th year Faculty of Management students think about, reflect on, and research this question. In doing so my intention is that they will be able to explore the myriad of leadership theories, thinking and styles. Read some of the works of leadership gurus both current and past and at the end of the day, produce their own personal definition of leadership.

In some respects it will be a daunting task as the number of works on the subject are myriad. My role will be to give some structure to the process without being too directive. Students will do most of their work in teams and will be given an opportunity to explore their own leadership abilities, many I assume for the first time. The reality is that we all have leadership within us. It is when we are given the opportunity to explore and discover that innate ability that it is allowed to develop.

Kouzes and Posner in Learning Leadership: The five fundamentals of becoming an exemplary leader (Wiley 2016) reinforce their position that leadership is a learned skill. This is something two of my virtual mentors, Marshall Goldsmith and leadership coach John Maxwell, both agree on. The other truth about leadership, which I have written about before, is that the best leaders are also the best learners. They improve as leaders by “consistently learning about their personalities, relationship and careers” (G. Seijts, 2014, Routledge).

“Leadership is authentic influence that creates value” – Kevin Cashman
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Great leadership demands awareness of and openness to ideas and thinking of modern management. But maybe, more importantly is to get to know oneself more deeply and getting to know those around you at a more intimate level. Antoni Cimolino, artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, stated: “There is something to be learned every day, both by looking in the mirror at yourself and by looking at the people around you.” (Good Learners Never Stop Learning, Ivey Business Journal, Accepted wisdom used to be that you didn’t get too close to your direct reports; that it wasn’t healthy to know who they really are and their issues. That idea has changed — we see in more and more studies that getting to know your staff and co-workers in fact improves communications, reduces conflict and increases productivity.

“The essence of leadership is not giving things or even providing visions. It is offering oneself and one’s spirit” --Lee Bolman & Terrance Deal
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So from an academic perspective, first getting to know where one stands in their own understanding of what leadership is (and possibly what it isn’t) is a good place to begin and a good place to start leading. It is as Cashman stated in Leadership From the Inside Out (Barrett Koehler, 2008): “Most definitions of leadership focus on the outer manifestations of leadership (i.e. vision, innovation, results, drive etc.) instead of getting to the fundamental, essence of leadership itself” (p.23). This is what I hope the students get — their personal essence of the nature of leadership.


John Whitehead, coaches’ individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

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Joel Anderson 12/7/2016 · #6

#5 :)

John Whitehead 12/7/2016 · #5

Hey Joel - where's the fun in not behaving? :)

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Charlene Burke 12/7/2016 · #4

I love the idea that leadership can be learned/taught, though I find myself stumbling and fumbling when it comes to the "offering oneself and one’s spirit". The first question that comes to mind is "what if they don't like my spirit"? I'm thinking in terms of an assigned role or title that sets me up as a leader. My interest is piqued by your intention "Students will do most of their work in teams and will be given an opportunity to explore their own leadership abilities, many I assume for the first time." The researcher in me would love to be a fly on the wall to watch those experiences, personal breakthroughs, and moments of clarity. And, of course, the discussions that will ensue.

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Joel Anderson 12/7/2016 · #3

#2 kust trying to so my best. 😨 i will beehave from now on.

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John Whitehead 12/7/2016 · #2

#1 Thank you for adding to the conversation Joel

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Joel Anderson 1/7/2016 · #1

John, interesting topic. In addition to an article i posted on the subject with some of my thoughts, i would pose the following five questions to whomever your audience is: 1) who is our customer? In leadership this means many things depending on the w,w,w,w,w and h factors, 2) what is our product? Again somewhat dependent on the five factors driving any leadership effort, 3) how do we deliver it? 4) how do they want it delivered? and 5) are we relevant? Leasership is a give and take effort that includes accountability, vision and focus. Leadership requires it at every level. A good thought to pose to your audience in getting to that fundamental essence behind that thought is oriented on mindset. Rather than a leader asking "how did that happen? Have them consider "how did i let that happen?" If you look at my articke understand that i am one that fundamentallysubscribes to a no secret sauce mindset under a BUILD & LEAD philisophy.

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