A quick google search for the term leadership will return over three billion results in .99 seconds. There are tens of thousands of leadership books, podcasts, webinars, not to mention blog post, social media feeds and of course classes, certificates and workshops. The concept of leadership has almost become too exposed. The idea that everyone needs to be a leader is everywhere. And when something tries to be everything, it can eventually become nothing like semantic satiation. When you say a word too many times it loses all meaning. There's a reason that leadership is everywhere. It's important, leadership can make or break the success of a team or organization and many of us share the goal of developing as an effective and ethical leader. Leadership is important and it is also challenging. It's messy, it's uncertain. Leadership is influenced by cultural situational and individual factors and leadership is a relationship. So the behavior of those who are being led, which is also often unpredictable influences leadership effectiveness. Leadership is complex and there's so many different perspectives about how to be a good leader. In this video, I'll briefly discuss the concept and a definition of leadership, then explore why we struggle with leadership with becoming ethical and effective leaders. I'll end with some suggestions for how to develop as leaders. The goal here is to help us to create a more distinct conceptualization of leadership that will be the foundation for our own leadership growth. What is leadership and academic research as well as in practice. Leadership has been explored through various lenses as different types of constructs. Leadership is a trait suggests that this concept is something that we are born with and that certain people might be more disposed to being effective leaders than others. Leadership as a skill set suggests that there are a variety of skills relevant to effective leadership and that we can learn these skills over time with practice. Sometimes leadership is conceptualized as control or influence over others. Perhaps you've heard the idea that leadership is getting others to do something you want them to do and having them believe it is their own idea. Leadership is also perceived to be motivation or inspiration. Inspirational leaders inspire others to achieve their goals by setting a clear vision and motivating others to achieve it. Leadership is a role, something that you acquire with a particular title or supervisory responsibility. Leadership is a mindset and even without a formal title, leaders naturally emerge in groups. All of these ways of conceptualizing leadership are helpful and relevant to our goal of understanding what leadership is. And also explain why leadership can be so challenging. Yet trying to focus on one of these conceptualization of leadership or trying to hold them all simultaneously is confusing. And can make it more difficult for us to focus on our own leadership development. We need a clear and simple conceptualization of leadership that both embodies. The various lenses described earlier while helping us to hone in on a goal for our own leadership growth. So I'll offer a definition for you here. Keeping in mind that it isn't the only definition that's worthwhile. Rather it's a definition that recognizes how leadership can be viewed through different lenses. And also takes an individual approach to owning one's leadership development process. So I define leadership as a socially constructed process where you are either given or choose to take increased responsibility. And accountability for empowering others to collaborate on solving problems in alignment with the organization's purpose. A note about social construction when something is socially constructed, that means it's a product of human definition and interpretation. And is shaped by context, culture and the people involved. This is so important to our definition of leadership because it helps us get out of the mindset of applying the magic solution mindset to our leadership development. Given or choose to take increased responsibility and accountability. Leadership can come to you in a formal role with supervisory responsibilities. It can also be something you are afforded because of your status or expertise. You can also choose to be a leader to direct a group of people who don't have direction regardless of how you got there. A leader has increased responsibility and accountability for some outcome, empowering others. Brene Brown defines leadership as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential. I really like this definition because it focuses on a leader as someone who supports others in their growth. As compared to definitions that focus on leaders as decision makers to influence to get others to carry out the leaders goals. Collaborate on solving problems related to the idea of empowering others is the role of a leader as someone who facilitates collaboration among people towards solving problems. Leaders should not provide solutions rather they are the guides on the path to problem solving and finally alignment with the organization's purpose. One of the responsibilities of leaders is to communicate the organization's purpose and to ensure that the outcomes of problem solving are aligned with that purpose. Why might we struggle with being consistently effective and ethical leaders? I'll offer a few assumptions that tend to underlie our approaches to leadership that can make it more difficult for us to grow as leaders. First is that we assume that there are leadership solutions for us to apply leadership formulas that will magically make us better leaders, there are various solutions to leadership. You should be x, you should do y, you should be transformational, you should be transactional, you should be a coach, you should be more directive. The problem is that these are solutions. And solutions do not always work the way we expect them to in complex systems. When we put on leadership hats or solutions we may be using them in the wrong context with the wrong people. We focus on the solution instead of the impact it's having on others. It takes us away from solving problems and helping others to solve problems to focus solely on ourselves, which is not sustainable. As we interact with different people and situations. We assume that the older we get, the more experience we have, the better leader we will be. I am in this position because of all of my expertise idea. We are no errors who believe that we are amassing all of the information we need to know about leadership. But sometimes the situation changes and everything we thought we knew about leadership no longer works in this context or with these people. Practicing leadership is a bit like playing baseball. You can learn everything there is to know but at some point you'll have to try to hit a ball with a bat and that can't be learned strictly through reading a book. Third, we assume that leadership is only about people and not connected to the work itself. When we learn about leadership, we tend to focus on the interpersonal elements which is obviously important. We conceptualize leadership as part of the social system. However, leadership is directly related to the work being done as leaders. We are solving problems for customers, consumers and users. If we focus on the social system. The interpersonal dynamics at the expense of the technical system problem solving within the work that we do. We miss an opportunity to integrate the technical and social systems. When the technical and social systems work smoothly together interpersonal dynamics are tied to problem solving process. Given these assumptions and complexity. What can help us learn to grow as leaders, a better understanding of ourselves, how we make decisions, what we value etcetera. Effective leadership starts with the self because leaders influence others and are accountable for decisions that affect others. It is important to learn as much about ourselves as we can. This means working to improve our self awareness and emotional intelligence, understanding our values and goals and learning more about how we make decisions. We also need a better understanding of others and how they are motivated to be an effective leader means building trusting relationships with those around us. Leaders need to empower others to be the best versions of themselves. That means leaders need to understand in general how people are motivated, how people solve problems, how teams work. And how people make ethical versus unethical decisions. And we need a framework for practice. We need to become continuous learners curious about our own development as leaders. Practicing to become more effective leaders means trying out new ideas that we read about and see others. Than exploring the outcomes and reflecting on the effectiveness and ethicality of the outcomes. We need to practice leadership behaviors in the context of the work. We can run experiments directly related to leading others through problem solving to achieve better work outcomes. Building a habit of reflecting on our leadership experiments related to work outcomes and learning from them will allow us to grow and develop as leaders. Leadership isn't something we know, it's something we do and like a sport or a musical instrument. Leadership growth comes from practicing it. Leadership is far too complex of a phenomenon to just learn and apply. Rather developing as a leader comes from owning our own growth process by reflecting on the effects of application of ideas and adjusting as needed. No book, no class, no degree, no certificate or combination is going to be the solution to your leadership challenges. It's what you do with the information and all of these things that matter. Everyone can start modeling the behavior they would like to inspire in others. We start by understanding ourselves, understanding others and identifying a framework for practice and reflection.