My textbook, “Level Three Leadership”, defines leadership like this: “Leadership is the ability and willingness to influence others so that they respond voluntarily.”
I thought that was really interesting. Interesting, but unclear. I immediately thought of a “leader” who is willing to influence others, and had the necessary training to influence others, but is alone one a desert island. Then I realized that they might be using “ability” in not to mean “skill”, but “capability”. Perhaps better would be to simply say “Leadership is influencing others so that they respond voluntarily.” The author goes to some length to explain that his use of “voluntarily” excludes manipulation, and the breaks down manipulation into deception and coercion.
I think the word “respond” is also ambiguous, since a “leader” could easily, by being rude towards someone over whom he holds no authority, influence the other person to respond by taking an action for no other reason than to spite the “leader”. Of course, the word “leader” implies a follower, and the definition would benefit from simply explicitly stating that “Leadership is influencing others so that they follow voluntarily.”
Anyhow, none of this is what struck me as interesting. : )
What struck me as interesting is how well the definition, despite it’s weaknesses, seems to be describing irresistible grace.