Dear Reader,

It’s pretty confusing to explain to people what I do for a living because my line of work is pretty unique. To put it simply I’m a research assistant focused primarily on leadership development. The professors I work for help people get better at whatever they want to get better at. I also help teach classes to college students and high schoolers about logic and leadership.

In studying leadership I come across many different leadership perspectives, but most of them are missing the meat so to speak. All of the different theories present good ideas, suggestions, and practices, but many are missing a core foundation.

So here are my top 5 ideas that I’ve gleaned that make understanding any leadership theory simpler.

1. The definition of leadership is subjective, but many definitions share common ideas:

Coaching               Development
Influencing           Teaching
Power                     Motivating
Mentoring             Etc

The commonality between the associated words is social involvement. Leadership always focuses on people, that much is simple. Leadership can be applied to work, family, social groups, and beliefs. On the other hand, management focuses primarily on goals, deliverables, and projects, all mostly related to the work environment.

2. An effective leader must understand people and how they progress.

Most of the key buzzwords listed above relate to growth. Since leadership is a social function, and most people seek to learn, improve, or accomplish new goals by following a leader, it can be said that leadership is also closely tied with human growth and progression.

3. Growth and progression cannot be forced.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” No matter how you roll the dice, if a follower is unwilling to grow or change there’s nothing that can be done. A person has to be willing to progress in order to be receptive to a leader’s guiding hand.

4. Influence is a term used express a coerced or inspired change.

Merriam-Webster defines influence as “the power to change or affect someone or something.”

If progression cannot be forced, then no one has the sole power to “change or affect someone.” Without the power to change someone, influence is non-existent in how we commonly know it today. Individuals must choose to be changed or affected (consciously or unconsciously).

5. In place of “forcing change”, a leader must predict and nurture it.

A leader doesn’t have the power to change someone against their will, but people have the power to choose to change according to their own will. By aligning someone with the correct resources, a leader helps a willing follower change at their desired pace, capability, and chosen direction. Just like the horse, the individual may then choose to “drink” the water or remain unchanged.

Key Take-Away: Good leadership will always require understanding and accepting the people around you.

Jake Gunnoe
Editor in Chief

Comments (4)

  1. Reply

    I feel that not all 5 ideas are not all true. Some points I have seen in other “leadership outlines.” I feel people can change without the help of a leader. Many times people have changed and there was no leader. I feel that in order for people to change, that person must look themselves from outside to inside and to be able to understand and fully reverberate what they see and how it went wrong

  2. Shane C.

    Reply

    This is a great post. I am pretty new to IMT and like your leadership ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jenn Cardoza

    Reply

    This concept of leadership is probably my favorite part of IMT. My whole life I’ve always been told by my parents, teachers, and coaches that I am a natural leader, but when I was younger I thought that meant I was good at controlling others or influencing them to do what I wanted them to. As I matured I quickly figured out the more you try to control anyone, the more resistance you’ll get back. I adapted my leadership techniques based off what I learned but did not really understand what I had actually learned until taking this course my sophomore year of college. Since learning these 5 ideas of leadership, I have made sure to implement all ideas into my techniques when leading any group of people. Not only has it made me a better leader, but it has allowed me to understand others much better. I saw it necessary to pass along these ideas to the leaders of my sorority’s chapter at ASU and help guide them to understand IMT leadership concepts. I believe with this information given and taught to someone, almost anyone can grow to become a more effective leader instead of a manager.

  4. William

    Reply

    It speaks volumes that the traditional sense of leadership follows a “you’re in control” type of mentality. Time and time again people associated leadership as a mantle of power and overall authority when, as you stated, this is neither true nor effective. The simplicity behind this guiding hand is that all great leaders can be seen implementing it in one way or another.

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