Thinking of leadership as an action

Leadership: What does it mean? For many, leadership means anyone in a position of power or authority. These people serve a “leadership position” and they are a “leader”. This thinking has been around for many, many years. As our culture and society is changing, so must our thoughts on leadership. As we look at leadership today, Bruce Adams with the Pew Partnership for Civic Change tells us: “the old model of leadership was pretty simple. We left the major decisions to a handful of people. The political elite dominating local decision-making were typically a small circle of white business and political leaders. They met behind closed doors and decided where economic revitalization would take place, where roads would go and who got contracts. This model no longer works. Citizens now have access to more information to form their opinions. Our society is more diverse and our problems more complicated. The old model of five city barons deciding for us is not workable or acceptable.”

So, we have to analyze and ask the question “If the old model doesn’t work then what will work?” In a study by the Center for Creative Leadership that embodied several organizational levels from top executives to the first level tells us that 84% of respondents believe that the definition of effective leadership has changed in the last 10 years. Respondents believe that the challenges facing organizations and communities today are more complex and are more difficult to resolve. There seems to be a rise of what is believed that is needed called “soft skills” such as building relationships, collaborative thinking and change management. John Gardner, author states:

“What is needed now is a new style of leadership that recognizes the importance of collaboration and the dispersion of initiative.”

Thinking of leadership as an action or something that is done rather than a position that is held is key to changing the thought of leadership in general. It doesn’t mean those in positions of authority aren’t allowed or shouldn’t exercise leadership, on the contrary. Those in positions of authority must exercise leadership in our society as it is today.

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