Leadership Academy

What is leadership?


The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ are often used as synonyms but have different meanings.

Leadership is about inspiring, management is about implementation. Leadership develops, management maintains. Leadership is more about people than systems, more about trust than control. Leadership is a vision, management a view. Leadership looks at the horizon whereas management looks at the bottom line.

A leader originates, a manager imitates. A leader focuses on the challenge, and a manager accepts it. A leader needs to be effective, a manager efficient. Leadership can be called the ability to get others to follow. Managers do not always need to accomplish this.

Leadership is a journey

It is a voyage of discovery that starts with unveiling your own potential, then developing it so that you can do the same for others.

Leadership is a mindset

Individuals can and do emerge as leaders in diverse environments and with varying roles and responsibilities. Openness to experience is vital in developing the right mindset to become a good leader. Leadership is not changing the mindset of your team but cultivating an environment that inspires and encourages everyone to be the best they can be.

Leadership is a responsibility

It is not influencing others to do something that they do not believe in, but giving them insight into why they can believe. It is not taking them on a ride, but letting them be guided to develop their own special qualities that will inspire them on their personal journeys, with both the individual and the team benefitting along the way.

Leadership is the ability to empower

It is not just a position of power. It should never be considered as power over people, but instead as power that exists between people. Those who work towards achieving success taking into consideration the needs of each individual team member are often more effective than those who consider themselves in isolation. The power of leadership should be used to empower the potential of the individuals in a team for collective benefit. It is interesting to note the types of power that exist. They range from professional position power (because you have the job and the title you have the power), to executive power (hierarchical power), the power of reward, the power of possible punishment, the power of expertise, charisma and association (e.g. the second-in-command), and information power (you matter because you are in the know).

Leadership is a philosophy of growing others and therefore, a privilege.

A leader needs a community

In the modern working world many of us spend a major portion of our lives working for an organisation, which could be termed a community. It provides security, protection, maintenance and a feeling of unity or belonging – exactly what a community provided in historical times. We all want to feel that we belong and that our contribution is recognised. This starts with the leader. Leaders care for their community.

A leader evolves

It is interesting to note how often true leaders emerge within informal organisations. Their own qualities, how they react to the demands and challenges of the community, and how they communicate determine how an individual can rise through the ranks and be an unofficial leader.

A leader has influence

A leader has persuasion, power and control with the ability to influence. An individual leader is the one the team members turn to for decisions, for support, for trust. So often people don’t set out to be leaders, but because they accomplish the above, and most importantly express themselves efficiently, they reach leadership status. This could be knowingly or unwittingly.

Consider making this your 10-point plan for good leadership.

  • A leader is principled and fair. Favouritism is unacceptable, yet sometimes difficult to avoid. It is also difficult to treat everyone the same, but not impossible.
  • A leader genuinely practises good corporate governance, leading by example. It should be “do as I do”, rather than “do as I say”. Transparency is essential.
  • A leader is consistent. He cannot inspire his team one day and lambaste them another. Instead, he needs to ensure that the team understand what is required of them, and that they have unequivocal support.
  • A leader shows integrity, when words match deeds. He is honest with himself, and with other people.
  • A leader needs to have humour – adding the element of fun to work makes it better for everyone. Humour, when used appropriately, is a good leveller and can create positive cohesion in a team.
  • A leader has a sense of abundance, is generous in giving of time, information and support; is positive, and is able to encourage positivity in his followers. He needs to make his team feel good about themselves.
  • A leader displays confidence. He should be confident of his abilities and of his team. He needs to do whatever he can to build the confidence of his team.
  • A leader has sufficient knowledge to know what questions to ask, and of whom.
  • A leader and demonstrates the wisdom to know when to stand up and speak out, or when to sit back and listen.
  • A leader needs to initiate, invigorate and delegate.

Authentic leadership is leading by example. Accountable leadership is displayed by a steady leader who makes every effort to be hands-on. I advocate asset-based leadership, making the most of what you have to influence those around you. A good leader is brave enough to appoint people who are better than they are. An exceptional leader is marked by those on whom they make their mark. 


Leadership is a philosophy of growing others and therefore, a privilege.

Leadership is not just being a boss or the CEO


Using the template (guided by the exampe) below, make your own columns of what you believe leadership and management stand for. In terms of what defines a good leader, the attributes that emerged repeatedly in my leadership interviews were humility, vision, authenticity and flexibility. Listed in these columns are some of the required qualities and abilities of leaders. You may wish to add a few of your own.

A leader needs to initiate, invigorate and delegate

Ask yourself what qualities you exhibit that will define you as a leader, and which do you lack? If you had to pick three of the qualities mentioned earlier to reflect your key qualities, what would they be? Would your team pick the same three to best describe you?


Watch this three minute video clip in which Bettina Sherick of the Drucker Group talks about visionary leadership and innovation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFisPAGYPUI


Ask someone else how they see you in three different situations – first, when you have been appointed to lead an existing team, and one member of the team is openly hostile to you; secondly, when you have this team to lead and they all seem secure, settled and competent; and thirdly, what leadership style would you adopt when this team faces a crisis? Consider your leadership style and what situation it is best suited to, and then, how it should be adjusted.


As a team, constructively discuss how your leader affects you – emotionally and in terms of performance. If you are already a leader, be brave enough to let your team give you feedback, good or bad. Include in your discussion group, temporary, transactional and transformational leadership.


Some thought-provoking questions around leadership that will provide food for interesting round table debate include the following:

·      Is leadership defined by one individual having formal or informal authority?

·      Are leaders born or made?

·      What traits are essential for a good leader and what qualities differentiate between a good and an excellent leader?

·      Are some leaders better in certain circumstances, or in a particular environment, or when leading a small or large team?


Download and read the HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership (www.amazon.com) for a diverse overview of leadership.

Jenny Handley

Leadership Columns 2.JPG Leadership Columns.JPG
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Issue 393


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