Leadership – what is it?

There are many definitions of leadership and people struggle to define what precisely it is. Bennis and Nanus two writers and academics said

“…leadership is the most studied and least understood topic of any in the social sciences,…Leadership is like the Abominable Snowman, whose footprints are everywhere but who is nowhere to be seen”

So what footprints are left by the departing England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, who resigned as he no longer felt his form merited the captaincy and thefore retired? In an interview on Sky Sports with Ian Ward,  Andy Flower, the team coach described Strauss in the following way. In response to a question about how Strauss would be remembered, Flower talked about England becoming the number 1 side in the world under Strauss. He then said

“Certainly his win ratio, I don’t know exactly what it is, must be pretty good. He should be remembered as one of the great England captains I believe. His effect on other people has been a positive one. He has made other people better players, he has helped them grow as people. He has brought people together and allowed them to work together. People have been very keen to follow him….and that’s not an easy thing to engineer”

Flower also described him as “A very strong man with a good sense of what’s happening around him, good self awareness, good understanding of other people, a good empathy with other people which is a great quality”

This was not a pre-prepared speech – and perhaps that is why it captured so well the essence that is difficult to translate. Strauss was undoubtedly a highly respected and popular leader. Flower captures nicely what leadership is and how even in top level sport it is about getting the best from others not just being the star yourself.

We believe that the cook book approach to leadership is deeply flawed, and believe in helping people highlight and utilise their strengths and what they need to develop (we’ll tackle the myth of only using strengths in another blog)  to bring out their own and other people’s best qualities. For some details on our leadership approach visit http://www.leadershipfootprints.com/seniorleadershipworkshop.php

How would people describe you as a leader (in the corridors and bars not at your leaving do) if you retired tomorrow?







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