The perennial question when it comes to leadership.
We all display leadership from time-to-time. Whenever we seek to influence another person, or group of people, we are leading. For example, when you get a group together to see a movie you are influencing their decisions and compelling them to do something. Leadership, like trust, is a social phenomenon–it only exists when people come together.
How far you go with your leadership will depend on your drive. Some will seek to become leaders in their work or vocation. Some have a natural talent for leadership, others don’t.
When it all boils down to it, leadership is about two things: vision and trust.
Trust can be earned. By practising the leadership skills that engender trust you can become a better leader. However, the size of the vision you can cast will determine how far you go with your leadership.
Vision has been defined as a combination of ‘a deep dissatisfaction with what is and a clear grasp of what could be’. If you have vision, you will always be able to say, ‘It’s not over’ (Gumble, N.). Some people have a natural ability to cast a vision, to see what could be, others don’t have that natural ability.
For example, when looking at places to buy some people can see potential in a run-down house, what it could become, while some will just see the run-down house, and still others will accept it for what it is and move in regardless.
Or another example: A club, church, or music group may be mediocre. Some people see the diminishing community and choose to leave and join something else. Those with the ability to vision see unlocked potential in the members and what it could be.
Without vision, seeing a different future or possibilities, you are simply managing.
Leading is the ability to take a group of people and realising the vision. This can only be done if those you are compelling to join you on the journey are willing to trust you. Otherwise you will have to resort to doing it all on your own (which will never work out as well), or coercing people through manipulation (and that rarely ends well).