What is Leadership?


“the action of leading a group of people or an organization.”


the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

Both from Oxford Languages


1a: to guide on a way especially by going in advance and led the officers to his hiding place

b: to direct on a course or in a direction a road leading the traveler to the heart of the city


to direct authoritatively : ORDER

Both from From Merriam-Webster

Our thoughts about leadership are confused.

We tend to think of it as either/or rather than both.

We tend to weigh more heavily on one side of the guide/command scale when, in fact, it is both.

Modern American leadership theory is more about guiding people than commanding people.

As a leader, you need to be able to guide AND command.

You have tendencies to do one or the other.

By the way, that’s true of both men and women. You have tendencies to do one or the other.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

~Zig Ziglar

My experience has been that when I lead by barking orders, even when they are right, I’m not getting the best out of the people I’m trying to lead. I get the best from them when I take a little bit of time to explain what I have come to the conclusion I have, ask for feedback that gets their buy-in, and then move ahead.

It may be simplistic but leadership is about having followers.

It’s hard to have followers when their heels are dug in. But that’s what a lot of leaders do — they demand performance without earning their position of authority from their followers. They may have the institutional authority that generates fear but don’t have direct buy-in.

When I coach people about their job search, I point out that the most important thing that they need to accomplish in the interview is generating trust from the people they meet. Without trust, they don’t get hired.

Without trust, you may command your staff to do things but won’t get their best effort.

Remember leadership is not purely about commanding or demanding for that matter.

It is also about guiding.

And if you are someone who guides very well, it is also about pulling rank at times I commanding, too.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He Career Angles | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunteris the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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