Stir the conversation
Stir the conversation
Thursday, September 1 | 2011

The Definition of a Leader

I’ve been asked many times to define a “leader.” Here’s my definition: “If your words and actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more or become more, you are a leader.”

The important word here is “others.” Leadership is about influencing others in a positive way. It’s about making every environment in which you are present and every group with which you participate stronger because you are there.

Always ask yourself the question: Is my organization stronger because I am there? Are my friends better people when I am in their presence? Is my community more inspiring because I live there?

I have a confession. My definition of leadership originated from someone else. John Quincy Adams shared the definition over 200 years ago. Isn’t that amazing? What it means is that to be a leader today is the same thing that it meant 200 years ago. In America, we have over two centuries of history from which to draw conclusions about what it means to be leader.

In my next post I’ll distill leadership to its three essential traits from which all other leadership traits flow. They may surprise you. They are based on the legacies of the three people groups from the last three centuries—1700s, 1800s, and 1900s—that best embodied leadership.

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