If there is a particular power I crave the most it is leadership. Leadership in my opinion isn't a title that you can be assigned. It is more of a state of being. It is a summation of previous actions that end up bleeding the essential essence that is "leadership". By the end of this I hope to share what I would consider is the definition of leadership.

Initially when I first heard about leadership, I thought boss. I thought, the guy above me, my boss, is a leader. The business has designated this guy as a manager so he must be a trusted leader. And while I think sometimes that is the case, I think that is an exception more often than it is a rule.

Management < Leadership

Managers have in their ability to work in the realm of leadership but I think there are a lot that end up working in the role of control rather than inspire. When I think about this concept, I often refer to this image.

I don't know who the original author of this image is but I'd love to credit them given the accurate representation.

By looking at the image above you can clearly see that a leader is not demanding of others they are not willing to do themselves. And that to me is important. Beyond that, what are some key characteristics of a leader? What might they be doing that you might be subconsciously picking up on but not actually seeing what they are do?

Credit for Everyone

You will often see a leader take a step back and reward the team for the success. Maybe even point out those who did an exceptional job. So a leader doesn't take the credit for the teams work when they succeed, and a leader doesn't blame the team when they fail. On a team, together we succeed or together we fail. That's what it means when they say there is no I in team.

Circles of Influence

A leader doesn't just influence those they are over but also lead those who seek additional help. Often times you will see those that leak leadership from their britches, have people from other circles come to them for help. Even though they may report to or be under different people.

Creating Value

A leader doesn't track how much value has been added. They already understand the value the team provides. By shaping the teams field of view and utilizing the right person for the job. Leaders understand the value these people bring by utilizing their skills on appropriately assigned tasks.

A Leader Lifts Others to their Expectations

Teaching is common with all of these traits but this is really a core value. They teach others to bring the people they lead up to their level. To inspire those they lead to grow and develop is a key trait in my opinion. But really, like in Lead By Example and Credit for Everyone teaching others about the vision so they are not only on board but share in the success is extremely motivating to continue driving forward.

They know their people

A good leader can take someone's skill set and utilize them for the bigger picture. And I would even argue they shouldn't really need to ask. Working with people you get a sense of what someone is good at, what they are interested in. You just need to pay attention.

Feedback is key

A leader inspires feedback. If you can't take feedback, you might as well be the guy in the chair in the picture above. Your interests are not the team's interests. But a leader is also not an all knowing power hogging ego-monger. A leader that is open to feedback but also acts on that feedback is often perceived as someone who cares about where they are.

Lead by Example

Leaders don't just command results, they entice it through sharing the vision. They are the ones who can take a vision and expand upon it and explain it in a way that you understand or get excited. When I say that I hope you know of one person who does that today. Because if you haven't you need to seek out one of these kinds of people.

Self Awareness

Being aware of where you are is also important. Like I said before, leadership isn't about knowing everything. It's more like knowing the rules of chess. You need to know the power of the pawn or the rook or the bishop. Utilize the pieces you have available to ultimately win the game or in this case, the business requirement.

Autonomous Leadership

A leader allows the team to make choices. All of this is within reason. Sometimes leaders must decide to go against what the team wants to do for the betterment of the project or deliverable. However, giving the ability to the team to choose their direction. Take ownership, fail or succeed and become their own leaders; promotes a healthier relationship.

These are just a few things I value the most in a good leader.