Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Clear leadership


This evening I had the opportunity to listen to a speaker who had just returned from a humanitarian service trip to Haiti. He told amazing stories about the trip, including heart-wrenching accounts of the devastation caused by the recent earthquake. He spoke about the director who organized the trip and what a great job he did in leading the people who went with him. When describing the impact this individual had on the trip, the speaker made the following profound observation:

People will follow clear leadership

What does ‘clear leadership’ mean to you? What benefits have you experienced from clear leadership? Please share your ideas.

7 thoughts on “Clear leadership

  1. Clear leadership for me means the following:

    1. I know who is the leader in-charge. (appointed or positional)

    2. The group recognizes the leader as the leader. (influential)

    3. The leader brings something on the table. (result oriented)

    • Excellent points. I’m aware of times when leadership comes from people who do not have positional leadership, but who have significant influence. Most often these people are recognized as leaders (as point 2. implies).

      Thanks for your comment,

  2. To me, true leadership is defined by:

    1. Knowledge of what needs to be done.

    2. Ability to communicate that to others. The ability to communicate, though, revolves more around listening than talking as the leader learns how others see the goal, how they can assist in reaching the goal, and issues they may have with the goal or the suggested path. Almost all of “leadership” lives in this on-going communication.

    3. Continued ability to inspire others that the goal is worthwhile (either for them or for the recipients of the goal, not for the leader).

    I’ve seen precious few people with titular leadership actually able to inspire people to the goal, but I’ve seen many people outside of the leadership hierarchy who are the cause of amazing change.

    • Travis, thank you for your adding to the Clear Leadership discussion. 1) Knowledge 2) communication & 3) inspiration — all are key to clear leadership.


  3. Maybe, maybe not. Brafman and Beckstrom’s Starfish and the Spider does a great job making the argument for leaderless organizations. People don’t follow clear leadership in these organizations, they follow people who are doing what they’re interested in.

    • David, thank you for the comment. Though I have not read the book, I did read the intro (http://www.starfishandspider.com/), which gives a good overview of the topic. The book provides clear examples of the weakness of centralized leadership.

      The examples cited (e.g. Geronimo) are, in my opinion, leaders. Though their approach is much different, and they do not have a “managerial” title, they are still leaders. What these examples bring out, however, is that there is no one clear method of leadership.

      This is very thought-provoking; thanks for sharing.


  4. leadership is all about guiding people, leading people, inspiring people to accomplish their goals and motivating people 🙂

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