Leadership Series (3) What Leadership Is Not? By Victor A. Imhangbe.

The above analysis on leadership has given us some insight and working knowledge to know who a leader truly is. At this juncture, I would like to first clear the reader’s mind by bringing to your understanding what leadership is not which are briefly explain below:

  • Seniority: Leadership is not seniority by birth. My cultural background placed more emphasis on respects to seniors that is people who are senior to us by birth.
  • Position: Leadership is not your hierarchical position in organisation.Company leadership place emphasis on the most senior executive in organisation. Leadership is not automatically bestowed on you because you earn the highest salary.
  • Titles: Leadership has nothing to do with titles. It is also common in my region for men of affluent to spend money in the purchase of glamorous academic and traditional titles in order to acquire leadership status. You can be a leader in your worship place, in your family or community without having title.
  • Personal attributes: Leadership has nothing to do with your outlook or atributes. People think showmanship, domineering personality, popularity and charismatic individual. You must not be an extrovert or possess charismatic traits to practice leadership.
  • Management: Leadership is not management. This will surprise you, but it is the fact, you may have 20 to 25 subordinates under you; that are commendable for you as good manager. It means you can plan, measure, coordinate, control, monitor, solve; and has the power to hire and fire, in fact every responsibilities a manager can handles.


I made extensive study on the work of Kevin Kruse, a prominent Forbes contributor. His opinion of who a leader is fascinated me. Through diligent study, I have been able to realised the deficiency on some of the previously acceptable definitions on leadership. The following examples will suffix:

Peter Drucker: was a writer, professor, management consultant and self-described “social ecologist,” Hailed by BusinessWeek as “the man who invented management,” Drucker directly influenced a huge number of leaders from a wide range of organisations across all sectors of the society. Drucker; “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” This definition lack substance, example put forward by Kevin Kruse; a new Army Captain is put in the command of 200 soldiers. He never leaves his room, or utters a word to the men and women in his unit. Perhaps routine orders are given through a subordinate. By default his troops have to “follow” orders. Is the Captain really a leader? If you tag him a commander, you are correct; leader no. I think Drucker definition of a leader is too simple and concise.

Warren Bennis’s defines leadership as the capacity to translate vision into reality. If for instance a vision is to plant vegetables in a garden every spring, and with lot of tendering, onions and cabbage becomes reality; does that qualifies you to be a leader? Gardener is what you are not a leader. Furthermore, Bill Gates opinion on leader stated thus: “as we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” His definition includes “others” and empowerment is a good idea. The term “empowerment” connotes many things both negative and positives, bank executive perpetrate fraud to empower others, motto park tout to becoming a state Governor and so on. Unfortunately, the part of goal and vision is nonexistence in Gates definition.

John Calvin Maxwell is the author of: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” which sold millions of copies. He is a Pastor and leadership speaker. He opines that “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” I understand the habit of great mind to use few words to describe topics that needs substance. Maxwell use of influence as the only tool lack credibility since influence connotes positive and negative. For instance; arms robber with a gun has influence over their victim, the same way a manager in a company has power to fire team members which is still influence. However, the influence of the robber does not make them a leader.


Recall Kevin Kruse definition of leadership; as a process of social influence, which maximizes efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. The key features that made this definition unique are:

  • Leadership is a product of social influence that is not the same with authority and power.
  • Leadership requires others impute, not people direct reports.
  • It does not mentioned of personality traits, attributes, or titles, but it requires many styles, and many parts to performing leadership
  • It includes clear cute goals, not something you engage with no intended outcome.

In a nutshell, I see leader as someone who award others, rather than himself, person who is your colleague, rather than your superior, who develop people, rather than uses people, who evokes respect, instead of fear, focuses on people, instead of work, think about the future instead of short-term. To sum it together, a leader is someone who is a simple personality with selfless and visionary mindset, a broad minded; diligent and articulate personality to assert social influence on human and material resources to achualise a set goal.

With the above leadership definition, I can say we now have a working concept of what leadership entails.In our next series, we shall be looking into the various source of leadership power . Your opinion and feedback is expected on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.


Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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