What Does Leadership Mean To You?

What Does Leadership Mean To You?

If we asked 10 different people this simple question, we would get 15 different answers! Contrary to popular belief, leadership is not about dictation. It is not about giving orders.

Leadership chart

Let’s examine the word dictate (Merriam-Webster):

dic·tate (verb) \ˈdik-ˌtāt, dik-ˈ\ 

  • : To speak or read (something) to a person who writes it down or to a machine that records it
  • : To say or state (something) with authority or power
  • : To make (something) necessary

Intransitive verb

  • 1: To give dictation
  • 2: To speak or act domineeringly

Transitive verb

  • 1: To speak or read for a person to transcribe or for a machine to record
  • 2 a: To issue as an order
  • 2 b: To impose, pronounce, or specify authoritatively
  • 2 c: To require or determine necessarily

dic·tate (noun) \ˈdik-ˌtāt\ 

  1. : An order or direction given with authority
  2. : A rule or principle that guides something (such as an activity or a person’s behavior)

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I am not seeing any leadership there! Here is a neat little acronym of dictate you might like:








You see, leadership is just the opposite of dictating. It is about emulating the proper behavior. It is not about barking orders. It is about showing others how to reach their potential, while keeping an open mind. Much like parenting, there will be times of frustration…on both ends. But at the end of the day, we all learned from it. Let’s now examine emulate (Merriam-Webster).

em·u·late (transitive verb) \ˈem-yə-ˌlāt, -yü-\ 

  • : To try to be like (someone or something you admire)
  • 1 a: To strive to equal or excel
  • 1 b: Imitate; especially :  to imitate by means of an emulator
  • 2:  To equal or approach equality with

Wow, what a difference. One speaks of telling, while the other speaks of showing. This pretty much says it all!

So now for the million dollar question: Are you a leader? Or are you a dictator?

If you have the courage to find out, ask your team the following questions:

  1. Does your team believe that you are competent and capable?
  2. Do your team members believe that you respect their ideas and will consider them?
  3. Is communication of new ideas for the organization prevalent when you are around?
  4. What is the common belief about you sacrificing your own self-interest for the good of the team?
  5. Do they believe that you are committed to invest in them, helping them develop and grow their skill set?
  6. Is there a “family” feeling of community in the company you lead?
  7. Will they come to you with good news, or only when there is a crisis?

Remember this: Your team already knows the answers. The question then becomes do you? Can you handle the truth?

Christopher Gould – President

Gould Design, Inc.