Leadership on the brain.

Leadership is many things. Among them…

First of all, leadership is. Choose your term – real, objective, material, actual… whatever we call it, leadership is. Leadership exists.

Leaders are people who other people look to. In many workplaces, neighborhoods, families, and other human groupings, some people look to and look at each other in different ways. There are often people whose views and voices carry more weight than others. When these people speak, other people listen more. These people’s opinions have a greater shaping power on the opinions of others. Whatever else there is to say about this, it simply is the case that this happens. These people are leaders. Leadership is a relationship within human collectivities. Leaders occupy a certain role.

Leaders can do numerous things with their position. Not all leaders know they are leaders.

Leadership is a responsibility. To each according to need. But also from each according to ability. If some have abilities that they don’t use or don’t use fully, in a collective context, they let that collective down.

Leadership often involves listening and questioning. It also involves proposals and positive suggestions. Sometimes groups lack leaders, or leaders are unaware of their position and so don’t propose courses of action, or leaders deliberately don’t propose courses of action. People who have the ability to move others and who don’t do so are more responsible than others are for the resultant lack of movement. Those who are able – due to experience and acquired skills and knowledge – to propose courses of action and who don’t do so bear a large share of the responsibility for negative results. When a group must react to a situation, the people who others look to for guidance have a greater responsibility to the circumstances, because if the leaders act the right way they can improve the situation. When someone looks to another, the one looked upon has a responsibility to the one looking: leaders have responsibilities to those for whom they are leaders.

Leadership is not command. Leadership is not forcing others or imposing one’s will on others. Leadership is a relationship, in which leaders use their will to encourages others to activate their will.

Leadership does not have to be but ought to be dynamic, temporary and transitional: leaders ought to cultivate others as leaders, to spread and share leadership rather than monopolize leadership. Leaders should to develop in others those qualities that make the leaders be the leaders.

Leadership is often uncomfortable. Stepping up to the tasks of leadership is often hard work. Neither of these is an excuse for shirking those tasks. Furthermore, if one simply is not up to the tasks then one must be honest about that, certainly to one’s self, rather than make excuses and obfuscations.

Leadership should not be pursued for its own sake, but for the ends that result for its exercise; the development of others as leaders, however, should be pursued for its own sake because the development of others’ capacities is a good in itself.

Leadership can be exercised better and worse; leadership is a relationship and in another sense it is a practice to be learned. The practice of leadership is in part a matter of what one does with one’s relationships as or position of leader. This practice is highly context and task specific. Considering leadership as a position or relation, it is relatively similar across groups. Considering leadership as a practice, leadership in a family has common elements with but is different from leadership in a workplace, a neighborhood, etc. To put it another way, different locations, times, and conditions create different tasks for leaders. Good leaders deal well with the tasks they face; generalizing across these tasks is difficult but merits further thought.

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