Leaders decide the what and how, leadership inspires the why

Leaders and leadership are not one in the same. Leaders have power, control, and subordinates. Those with leadership qualities inspire action in others. People listen to leaders because they have to, people choose to follow those who inspire them to act. This is why it matters why you do what you do. People can inherently sense what motivates you. If you are motivated by money, power, or control you may very well become a partner or a VP. People will follow you, but they will do it because they have to, not because they choose to. In order to unlock the full potential of others people need to be inspired to act.

A leader can tell others what to do and how to do it. People will act because they have to, usually in exchange for a paycheck. Inspiring others to take action entails telling others why you (yourself) do what you do. If people believe in why you are taking action, people will be inspired to take action towards the same goal. Leadership is about communicating your own "why" in a way that inspires action in others.

I wish that I could take credit for the above, but, what I am writing here is not my original idea. This doesn't make me believe it any less. I usually have to read something 2-3 times to really let it sink in. I needed to hear the above about leadership once to adopt it. I never really knew what leadership was until I learned the above.

Leaders had always been nothing more to me than the best player on the team, the coach, or anyone else in an artificial position of power. I often wondered to myself, what makes these people so special? Why are these people in a leadership position when they don't really do anything special? The answer is that most leaders aren't special. Most leaders lead, but they don't inspire action. Leadership inspires action in others. People who inspire action in others are few and far between.

In order to inspire others to action you first need to know what drives you, what is your why? It is not about telling people what to do, or even how to do it. A great leader effectively communicates what their own "why" is. The what and how can be delegated. Many, not all, but many people can communicate to others what to do and how to do. Not many people can effectively communicate a why that inspires action in others.

In college I ran a really small business that had enough revenue to make me feel like I was some kind of leader. How wrong I was. This experience taught me a lot about what I thought leadership was, but in reality I wasn't even scratching the surface.

When I first started I was doing everything myself. I thought that being the master of knowing how to do everything was leadership. My first lesson in leadership was learning that a leader delegates. Knowing how to do everything doesn't matter, because one person can never do everything once something gets big enough.

Okay so for many years I thought, okay now that I know that leadership is about effective delegation now I know everything about leadership. Again, how wrong. Anyone can delegate and tell others what to do, and even the small details about how to do it. The truth is that the best leaders don't necessarily need to be able to communicate what to do or even how to do it. Honestly, the what and how can be delegated. So yes, learning that delegation is part of leadership is an important lesson. But, the truth is that leadership is about inspiring the why, while delegating the what and how.

Leadership does not require a formal position. Find your why, your internal reason and drive for doing what you do, and effectively communicate it to others.

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