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What is Leadership?

What is leadership? Discover the true qualities of great leaders.
Right, welcome to this next step, which we have called ‘What is leadership?’ The point of the exercise we’re about to get you to have a go at, is to connect you to some of the pre-existing attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, ideas that you are holding on to about leadership and who is a leader. The reason we think that’s important to do is that first of all, this is not a course which is trying to teach you a model of leadership that we think you can somehow ingest and then go and execute in the world as though it were software. Fundamentally, leadership is a social and relational action and practice.
Therefore you’re going to develop your leadership, it’s about learning to be yourself more skilfully and therefore it’s about being more in touch and more self-aware about some of the influences that are swirling around in you, that you’ve picked up along the way in life.
The opportunity here is to really consider: what is some of the baggage you’re holding on to? Not to judge it, but to just connect with it to be aware of it and how it might influence how you think about leadership and your relationship to things like power and authority. So, this is a bit of an exploratory step just to see what you are already carrying with you.
A related point: this is also not a course that believes leadership is something reserved for high status roles or individuals already in formal leadership positions. Our attitude and invitation here is to think about leadership as an action and something that’s distributed across the health and care system in all kinds of roles, in all kinds of people.
If you’re going to take up your power and take up your leadership practice - if we’re going to call it that - one of the most important things to you can do, regardless of your responsibilities or the amount of authority and status you might have in your role, is just being in touch with who you are and how you came to be who you are. Some of that is to do with our attitudes to leaders and leadership, which you will have absorbed along the way, regardless of your professional experience because we live in a society that demonstrates attitudes and ideas about leadership all the time.
Whether that’s to do with gender or performance and behaviour and we absorb that without too much discussion along the way. So, all this step is, is an invitation to engage critically and thoughtfully with what you already think but perhaps haven’t had much chance to consider before we get into some of the more substantive steps in this course. So have fun, don’t rush over it and really consider your response to some of the questions we pose below.

In this video, Simon explains why it’s important to take a moment to explore and understand your existing ideas, assumptions, and beliefs about leaders and leadership. After you’ve watched the video, take some time to contemplate the questions below.

Please do note, on this course ‘leadership’ is something anyone can demonstrate in their life and work. You do not need to be in a formal leadership role to have a go at answering these questions:

  • What qualities and skills make someone a ‘great leader’ in your view?
  • Think of a leader you admire and respect (they can be living or dead, real or fictional, and from any field). Reflecting on who you’ve chosen and why can you add to your list of leadership qualities and skills?
  • Finally, consider your answers so far and think about what qualities and skills are most important in your own leadership? What do you want people to say about you? What don’t you want people to say about you?

If you are choosing to keep a reflective journal, your thoughts and responses to these prompts would make a great initial entry.

What do you think are the three most important qualities, skills, and/or behaviours in a leader?


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