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Thinkers50 Podcast: Defining Leadership

In this Thinkers50 Podcast, Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove talk about defining leadership.

They start with their favorite definitions of leadership. Stuart Crainer talks about how the term ‘leadership’ is ambiguous in and of itself, because we have trouble defining good leadership and bad leadership. Des brings up the late great Warren Bennis, and a quote of Bennis’s that he favors: “Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing.” Stu says that he interviewed Warren Bennis, and that what Bennis found difficult in being a leader is being powerless. He saw someone cutting the grass, and he thought the guy cutting the grass had more power than he did – the person who was leading the institution.

Stu and Des continue on to more formal definitions. Stu likes the following quote:

Leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations […] of both leaders and followers – James MacGregor Burns

Des prefers something more pithy, from Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones: “Leaders excite people to exceptional performance.” Des also brings up the late CK Prahalad, and his definition of leadership: “Leadership is about hope, leadership is about change, and leadership is about the future.”

Stu and Des continue defining leadership with definitions from Gianpiero Petriglieri, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Tom Peters and Nancy Austin.

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