David. On Leadership

DSP at Wellington Barracks

David Penner reporting from Wellington Barracks, London

Leadership is calling. Leadership comes to us.  Sometimes we seek it; sometimes it finds us.  When it does we find that are not prepared — we have technical skills but have not developed leadership skills. We may not recognize it — our mental models filter it out.  Or we misinterpret it — our own needs and wants get in the way or perhaps we have been watching the wrong people for inspiration.  And often we often do it badly — we rush in, amateurs on the stage, and don’t take the time to do it properly.  Yet we feel the call of leadership — we want to respond, step up to the responsibilities, and make the world a better place.

Sharing some questions.  The purpose of this website is to collect some thoughts, share a few examples and reference research about leadership in an effort to introduce, remind or energize those for whom leadership has found. We start by asking the question, What is leadership?  At first the answer seems simple, but the more we look into it the more complex it becomes.

What do we know about leadership? We know that it is not power-and-control. We sometimes confuse the two ideas. We also know that it is not management, although the two often work together. Some say leadership is influence, power, position, title, authority, dominance or direction.  On closer inspection we find that leadership is primarily about ‘attentiveness to the future’, as such it is also about hope, change and urgency, about creating opportunity and building community, about listening and asking good questions, about creating a new agenda and reframing the conversation and, in the words of Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, holding ‘conversations on subjects that matter.’

Leadership is needed everywhere. Leadership is the critical component in any group, community, or organization. While positional leadership is expected in an organization, leadership is needed everywhere. Leadership occurs ‘at the top’, ‘at the point of contact’ and ‘in between’.  What is leadership?  Explore some ideas about leadership (links on the right).


David S Penner, PhD. 

DSP 2015