Leadership, according to the Organizational Behavior specialists has me questioning a few concepts about leadership. Does being a great leader mean you know how to get into the position of leader (elected, coup, heir)? Does it mean you are able to stay in that position – longevity? Or perhaps it means you bring great utility to a large amount of people?
Robbins and Judge in their text book Organizational Behavior write that leadership is the ability to influence a group to achieve a common goal or mission (Robbins & Judge, 2009). Hitler was a great leader using this definition. He also had great skills that landed him the reigns of leadership in Germany and he had staying power, that is until the Russians occupied Berlin. The story line behind many a great leader whose company fell apart upon his or her retirement or vacancy is sadly a common theme within corporate America (Collins, How The Might Fall. 2009). Are they great leaders because the stockholders made money while they were CEO? Using this definition, leadership is a temporary phenomenon using a very base set of criteria that Al Capone possessed.
I submit that the unsung leaders of the world are those who make their space a better place for being there. A leader doesn’t need to be a narcissistic figure head, a mean dictator, a dominant or numbers focused financial guru, or even born that way, as many people still believe.
A leader is a person who makes a difference in another person’s life. According to Positive Psychology and many studies done on happiness, giving service and seeking the betterment of another person is an intrinsic reward, a dopamine release, and a satiable approach to happiness and well being. Using this argument, leadership can be taught and with the speed of knowledge and business, having a company of great leaders may be the most powerful tool a company could invest in.
Perhaps what each organization needs is more leaders who possess the ability to make life better for another person versus the traditional figurehead whose reign of profits end upon his or her demise.