Leadership is a Verb…

John C. Maxwell, Author, Speaks to 4600 TN Con...

Image by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr

I love the magazine Success. One of my favorite features is a monthly motivational/educational CD they include in each issue. This very unique feature is something I look forward to listening to each month. Today I had the pleasure of listening to an interview with John Maxwell, one of my favorite motivational speakers. He provided me with today’s topic… Leadership is a Verb not a noun.

How often in your life have heard some one say I am the Leader of XXXX. Like it is a position of possession, they own it, you want it, but I am not giving it to you attitude.  John shared today that leadership is an action that people choose to follow it is not a noun or position to be looked at, and admired. Leaders often struggle with this I would imagine in todays corporate structure. See in the late 90’s Leadership in our country began to change from the traditional do as I say because I am the leader corporate structure to a structure where people decided internally which leader they wanted to follow based on actions and convictions of that individual.

Leaders over the last decade had to adapt and change, from ones that simply dictated direction to leaders which actually shared knowledge, know how and motivation to get it done from the front of the line. Think about it, how did we get out first Black President, Obama is a natural leader whose vision and actions inspired a mass of people to not only come along side his movement but also develop their own leadership style and direction and helped build his movement in to the largest nationwide campaign trail most of us had ever seen.

My wife is a former English teacher, yes she is very critical of my writing style as well, and I know that she would have just loved the thought of leadership being taught as a verb.  Here short tenure as a teacher was under the direction of a “leader” which was more about the Noun than the Verb if you know what I mean.

I recently left a career of 17 years in Newspapers for very similar reasons, here is an industry filled with Leadership that has little action. When I left I decide to start my own business and follow the only leader I knew I wanted to trust at the time, me. ( www.1to1valet.com ) For newspapers survival they will hopefully find Leadership with action in the near future.

I was thinking today at what drove me out of the sales field and into management in that industry, it was the people who I worked with. They were the reason I thought being a manager was going to  make me a great leader, but I wonder if at times I forgot why they made me feel that way in the first place. I was just a hot-shot sales person for the first five years of my career, but I started to realize that my knowledge base and willingness to help others in the paper was making me very popular. I started to believe that I could be a better leader than my boss and started to really step out of line to develop my own voice in leadership.

The Key that I think most leaders miss there even if they are a leader of action is knowledge base. The willingness to share knowledge and develop future leaders.

John Maxwell is right, Leadership is a verb, it is a symptom of action, but action without knowledge is not leadership, it is foolishness.

If you are a leader and you are wondering where all the followers are going, look around for the person which is displaying confidence in actions and knowledge in the work force and you will identify the leader of the group.

How do you develop more leaders:

1) Become a person of action and start to lead your company from the front lines.

2) Share your knowledge, and empower others to lead the way.

3) Encourage group dynamics in the organization and let leaders develop in the  group.

4) Help team discover leadership qualities and styles they already posses

5) Step back and become a follower of strong leaders in your own organization, when it is called for. Let others knowledge base that is superior to yours not stop you from growing and learning.