I readily admit that, with the many, many, many definitions of leadership that exist,

it can seem pretty reckless to say that the definition of leadership sucks.

Which one of them?

Well, all of them!

How can I be so declarative? Any definition of “leadership” is inadequate because it is missing an adjective, “good”. Our current definitions of leadership assume all leadership is good but of course that’s just not true.

Let’s take my favorite definition of leadership for example – leadership is influence. Based on this definition Adolf Hitler was a leader. He was an effective leader in that he effectively influenced people toward his desired goals; but, obviously, he was not a good leader.

The definition of leadership is not only still valid but, in my opinion, validated by this example. But the example also highlights another challenge with our current definitions of leadership . . . they all assume that leadership is always exercised in good ways. Again, we know that is simply not the case.

To develop good leaders our definition of leadership must also include the notion of good. If our goal is ill-defined our methods for achieving them will inevitably suffer. Thus, we are in a better position to develop good leaders when we have a definition of good leadership that is well-defined.

Here’s my definition of good leadership: Effectively influencing people to good outcomes.

Send me a comment to let me know what you think of it.