Leadership – how, what, why and who

Leadership – how, what, why and who


Leadership and what affects it


Leadership is all about  creating the space where people are willing and able to share and combine their talents and passions to achieve a common goal!
Our role as leaders is to set the stage, not perform on it!


I’m sure you’ve come across lots of different leaders in your life, some of them good, others not so good.
Spend a few moments now thinking of two leaders that you have known. First, think of a great leader. What was he, or she like? What made them great?
Now, think of a bad leader that you have come across. Why were they bad? What did they do? What made them different to the first leader you thought about?
Now if you try and stand aside, looking at your two examples, you will notice that in both cases leadership is about influence. (no mater if positive or negative one)
A leader is somebody who can sway other people’s opinions and behaviors. A manager may have a title, but a leader has the influence.
The second important element of leadership is that it occurs between a leader, and a follower or a set of followers. If the influencing process occurs amongst peers, then it is a team process, rather than leadership.
The last point is that leadership is not just about who or what the leader is. Leadership is definitely based on these things, but it also depends on how the followers perceive the leader.
For example, if they perceive the leader more as a friend than as a position of power, then they may be less influenced by what the leader says or does.
Leadership also depends on the context. You’re more likely to be influenced by the leader when there’s a crisis happening, and you’re in a state of flux, though when you’re in control and know exactly what to do.
So, all of these things contribute to the degree of influence in the leadership process.
Now that we know a little  bit more about what leadership is, we can start to explore the different types of leadership.
The first differentiation is one that I hinted at earlier when we talked about the difference between leaders and managers.
And this is the difference between formal, and informal leaders.
A formal leader is the person who has the title of being the leader of your group. This might be your boss, the CEO of your company, or the leader of your country.  Everybody knows that this person is the leader because they occupy a formal position.
An informal leader is somebody who doesn’t have a formal position, but who still engages in an influencing process with followers. For example, Martin Luther King didn’t have a formal leadership position, but he had significant influence over his followers. The same can be said of Mahatma Ghandi and Malala, and others.
A CEO recently told me that one of the key leaders in his organisation was the receptionist. Her followers were the customers, and potential sponsors of the organisation who talked to her on a regular basis, and she had tremendous influence over them.
So, the message here is that you do not have to have a title to be a leader. 
The last differentiation I want to make between different types of leadership is whether the leadership comes from the front, or from behind.
When we think of a leader, we tend to think of a Martin Luther King type – a charismatic person standing on a pedestal, and inspiring us to follow them wherever they go.
This is what we call charismatic, or transformational leadership.
However, there’s another type of leadership that we’re beginning to recognize, and that is called servant leadership. In this type, the leader supports the followers from behind. They nurture, defend, and empower their followers, so that they are simply the first among equals, rather than being the person at the front.
Their motto is that the needs of others come first.
Neither of these types are superior to the other, generally. They are simply different types that maybe more relevant to some people, and some cultures, than others.


OK, but how does leaders emerge?


A key thing to note is that leader emergence is very different to leader effectiveness. You might feel like a leader, and everybody else may look to you to be
the leader, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a good leader.
Think about how you would answer the following questions:
Leadership questions
If you answer with “yes” to them, then you have a strong leader identity.
If you answered maybe, or no, then chances are you don’t see yourself as a leader and you have a weak leader identity.
Research has shown that the more a person believes him or her self to be a leader, the more likely it is that they will take on experiences that develop their skills and that grow their leadership potential.
Whether you see yourself as a leader or not, depends on how your view of yourself matches up against your view of what a leader should be.
Remember earlier,  when you thought about a good leader? If your view of yourself matches your view of a good leader, then chances are you’ll have a strong leader identity and you’ll actually become a leader.
Then, if other people see your behaviors, and these behaviors match what they think a leader should be, then they will act as though you are a leader, reinforcing your own sense of leader identity.
So, let’s take three examples: 
Jay thinks that all leaders are extroverted. But because he is introverted he thinks that he couldn’t possibly be a leader, and he therefore has a weak leader identity.
Kay is introverted as well. But she realizes that although many leaders are extroverted, there are some good leaders who aren’t, and who are introverted instead. And when she compares herself against what she sees as a good leader, she thinks that they match. Her colleagues also think of her as the leader, even though she is quiet.  So she tries out her leadership more and more.
Ellen, on the other hand, is extroverted, and this matches her view of leaders, so she has a strong leader identity. However, her colleagues see her as domineering, and
this does not match their view of what a leader should be like. So, they ignore her attempts to engage in leadership.
Kay is the only one of the three who will emerge as a leader in the long run.
So when it comes to leader emergence, the most important thing is your leadership schema, or what you think a leader should be like. If you think that who you are matches your leadership schema, then you’ll have a strong leader identity. If your behaviors match other people’s schemas, then they are more likely to let you start becoming a leader.
So think about your own leadership schema, and the schema of those around you. Understand it, challenge it, but most of all think about how it is affecting your leadership, and the leadership of those around you.

So, What makes an effective leader?

Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to this, otherwise we’d be surrounded by fantastic leaders.
I’m not saying it will always be the best form of leadership, but the research evidence is strong and robust. So we know that it often works.
Full range leadership theory suggests that there are two basic types of leadership – transactional leadership and transformational leadership. 
  • Transactional leadership is the basic form of leadership, and it’s based on an exchange relationship between the leader and the follower. Essentially, if the follower works hard, then the leader provides a reward. If they don’t, then they’re punished.

Transactional leadership works best when the leader provides clear instructions and enough resources to do the work.

When there are rewards contingent on the behavior, and when the leader actively monitors the performance to make sure that any errors or reduced performance is caught at the right time.

Other theories call this type of leadership – Task-oriented leadership – where the focus of the leader is at the task in hand and how it could be improved, optimized, completed in the best possible way.

Now, transactional leadership tends to get a bit of a bad rap, but actually this is a fundamental part of leading. An effective leader is somebody who does all of these things. 
  • So what is transformational leadership? 

Well, once you’ve got the basics down, and people know what they’re doing, and they’re reinforced for doing the correct behaviors through transactional

leadership, then we can start to motivate them through other means. Transformational leadership is comprised of four elements, or 
what we call the four “I”s:
  • Individualized consideration – it is about knowing who your followers are as individuals, and developing their skills and knowledge.


  • Intellectual stimulation – means that you’re challenging your followers, giving them difficult and complex tasks, and encouraging creativity and innovation.


  • Inspirational motivation – is about setting a vision and linking that to the day to day goals of the group. And about being optimistic and enthusiastic.


  • Idealized influence – which was originally called charisma and involves standing up for what you believe in, discussing your values and your ethical stances.


Some theories call this the “People-oriented leadership” – where the focus of the leader is at people, their abilities, potential, motivation and success


In summary, leader effectiveness is about both managing people and inspiring them. 

Followers need to know what to do, and have the resources to complete the task. But to be a great leader, you also need to transform people so that they want to do the work. 
It’s not easy but it’ll certainly pay off for you.



Well… just pick one…



Can you think of a person or organization, that could benefit from this? Share it with them…

Using Goals For Motivation

Using Goals For Motivation


(by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham)



A goal is a purpose or an intention that serves two aims:
  • It defines what needs to be done.
  • It helps people focus their attention on information that is important to meet their goals. 


Any form of deliberate or a voluntary action is driven by a goal. For example – when you make your breakfast in the morning, you have to decide what you’re going to eat and how you will prepare it. This is goal setting.

To be shaped, every goal goes through two phases:

  • The deliberation phase – the process of choosing what goal to pursue
  • The Implementation phase – the process of choosing how to pursue the goal

The goal-setting theory provides guidelines on how to set goals so that you can maximize your goal attainment. There are four guidelines to follow:

  • Set specific goals – they lead to higher performance than vague or broad goals
  • Set challenging goals – a person needs to feel stimulated in order to be motivated. The goals need to be just above the current skill level of the tasked person. (but not much above)
  • Goal commitment – people usually commit to goals when they have set them themselves instead of goals being imposed on them by others. In cases of tasks given, let say be an employer, the task will be given from others, but the employee can be involved in a discussion of why and how.
  • Feedback receiving (both positive and negative) – Positive feedback could be even more motivating than monetary rewards. It informs the person not only that he or she is progressing, but more importantly about what he or she is doing right. That way it stimulates repeating behavior. Negative feedback, on the other hand, is a tricky thing. It should never focus on the lack of competence. It should be focused on behavior to be changed and how it should be changed.


The SMART Model of Goals Setting:


Setting goals using the SMART goals principle can help to create clear and specific goals that you are most likely to achieve. So what is a SMART goal? SMART stands for:

  • Specific – State exactly what you want to be accomplished (who, what, where, why).

Bad example: Improve incident reporting.

Good example: Everyone who writes an incident report needs to include more details, specifically in section 2.

  • Measurable – Measurable goals should include indicators of progress, such as the number of incidents.

Bad example: We will lower our number of incidents.

Good example: We will decrease the number of incidents by 30% in 2019, using 2018 as the baseline.

  • Achievable – Goals should be challenging, but attainable. Context, available resources, and constraints should all be considered when developing goals.

Bad example: Everyone needs to complete the new training program in the next two weeks.

Good example: Within the next six months, everyone will attend the new training program. We will use a staggered approach for attendance so that we are not short on staff.

  • Relevant – Relevant goals should consider how the goal ties in with team members’ responsibilities and how it aligns with other objectives.

Bad example: Update the evacuation procedures.

Good example: By the end of the week, update the department’s safety evacuation procedures to reflect our new location.

  • Timely – A timeline should be specified for goals. It should be realistic, not too far ahead, and not too tight.

Bad example: The training needs to be completed when you have time.

Good example: All employees will complete the training by December 1st, 2019.






Let’s assume you are the manager of a software company. Your team has a challenge upcoming (it could be a number of things: new client or a new feature that needs to be implemented, or even training that the owners of the company wanted the team to undergo). For the needs of the example, we will take the scenario where you have a new feature for development.
So, in order to properly set the goal so that the entire team (involved with the task)  could be at the same page, you will need to make the goal well-written and easy to understand.
  • First, you’ll need to clearly describe what is needed to be done. What will be the perfect end result – not as a feature but as a real value – the outcome? (For example, instead of saying something like “We need to create a Python script that does X and Y, using such and such framework and sourcing this and that, it’s better to describe the final result that is wanted and later ask your team to offer potential solutions, technologies, and approaches.)


  • The second most important thing – why. What is the need behind it, its purpose, and how it will serve it?


  • Finally, how. Here, it’s important to mention that you should MOST DEFINITELY involve your team with the “How part”. Ask them, hear them and – if proper – use their solutions or parts of them while strategizing. When setting each detail, make sure that the person offering the solution, owns it and will be responsible for it after. That means he must understand what is needed to do it, what will be expected and what is not “ok”. (all those should come from his mouth)


  • The KPIs or Key Performance Indicators should be set from the beginning. In other words – how would a job-done greatly will look like, measured in numbers – for ex. : If we could do it with only three team members, for 5 working days, with no more than 2K$ as an investment towards third parties and not more than two days of QA time it will be perfect. The project lead will be Jack The important part here is, that after once the KPIs are talked-over, you need to sit and write those down:
    • Time frame 5 workdays – when you set a specific time-frame you should take under consideration all important elements. Yes, this includes the client’s desires, but it also includes the physical dimensions and possibilities. (for ex. if your team already has their plates full with other tasks).
    • Deadline – Friday, 21.01.2019. A big mistake to avoid is to “believe your folks will manage to do it”. It is always better to ser extra time and finish early than set a good-to-have time frame and fail…
    • Development Responsible persons – Jack and Jones (When you pick the team members for the execution of the tasks keep in mind the “Challenging” rule. They need to have the skills to do the task but at the same time, it should be a small challenge for them. The task needs to be just above the current skill level so that they could learn while doing it. Another important thing is to consider – is what you ask of them aligned with their responsibilities? Is it in their field? For example, if you are tasking a back-end python developer to create a front-end javascript feature – yes he could probably do it, but is it what he does? Will he be happy with it? Is it something that he wants to learn to do? Keep in mind that when a person can do something, that doesn’t mean he will be motivated to do it. If you have options, you should most definitely think twice when picking whom to task with specific tasks.
    • Project Lead – Jack
    • Third Parties Budget 2000$ (for ex.: 1200$ for frameworks, 800$ for plugins)
    • The time frame for QA – 2 workdays
    • QA Responsible person – Nick
    • QA Deadline – Tuesday – 26.01.2019
    • After QA Finalization Deadline – Friday 29.01.2019


  • Next – you should make it your priority to measure the progress during the process and make adjustments if needed, provide feedback and guide your team through challenges they face. It is not to wait till the deadline to find out that some parts are not ready yet, you need to be there step by step. This could mean you meet the team each day for a progress update, or it could also mean you use some reporting system that helps you stay in the loop.


  • Providing feedback should be directly connected to the tasks performed, You, as a leader and a manager, need to give feedback for both – the good and the bad. The most common mistake with serious long-term consequences is not to tell a person when he’s done a good job. Doing so will guarantee you that he or she will understand what is the desired behavior that you aim at and will try to give it to you each time.

When talking about negative feedback – let’s say the person messed up with something, you shouldn’t focus on his lack of knowledge, but at what’s to be done now and in future so that the bad outcome could change.

This should be made in form of questions towards the person.

For example: “Do you think this is the result we agreed on?”

“Does it do such and such?”

“How can you approach the issue differently so that it does such and such?”

“What else could you do to improve the process?”

“Who you could turn to for further assistance?” Etc.

After the process is fixed, you need to use the case for a learning moment. It is the time when you make sure that a person learns from his mistakes. Again questions – “What did you learn from that? What will you do differently next time?” Take under consideration that without feedback, more often than not neither the company nor the team is evolving, developing and improving, ergo – your business is not growing…

Can you think of a person or organization, that could benefit from this? Share it with them…