What Is Leadership?

Leadership is a term that means so many things to so many people. It is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. How to lead, however, is challenging. Most everyone has had a bad leader or manager. From leaders who are unable to admit when they are wrong or don’t know the answer, struggle to effectively communicate, have unrealistic expectations, or cannot adjust when market conditions change.

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Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

Leaders are made, not born so this blog is about becoming a better leader. Inspiration and lessons about becoming a better leader can come from anywhere. However, as a society, we have a naturalness bias.

Naturalness bias is the psychological phenomenon where given the choice between a hard worker and someone who we perceive to be naturally talented, we have a tendency to pick the latter. Worse yet, we tend to not even notice we do this.

Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit, points exactly why this common mistake can have a big impact. Talent is how fast someone picks up skills when effort has been invested. Simply having talent doesn’t do much though as failing to use that talent means nothing will be achieved. Achievement is the result of taking those skills and applying effort. Talent times effort equals skill. Skill times effort equals achievement. By overvaluing talent, we miss the most important quality. Effort.

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Photo by Guy Kawasaki on Unsplash

Effort is something we can see matters in film if only one is willing to look for it. Ratatouille, for example, is a film that is about a rat with a dream of being a chef in the food capital of the world, Paris. Obviously, being a rat poses a large number of problems to Remy. Humans don’t want rats in their kitchen, let alone preparing their French delicacies.

Remy doesn’t particularly care, however. He puts in the effort to read cookbooks and learn the techniques required to learn. He puts in the effort to build his skills. When the opportunity to apply his skills by controlling Linguini, he (eventually) puts forth great effort into creating the best meal he could, impressing the fearsome Anton Ego. At the end of the film, the Anton Ego begins to understand a deceased chef’s favorite quote. “Not everyone can become an artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere”.

Looking at this from a leadership standpoint, we can see that effort matters more than talent. Talent certainly matters, Collete (the love interest of Linguini in Ratatouille), is a good example of that but if you don’t put in the effort, your talent is nothing but unmet potential, like Chef Skinner. Collette is the only female sous chefs in the film and through her conversations with Linguine, we see she has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is today. Chef Skinner, on the other hand, wants to take the easy way out, relying on the brand to create cheap frozen foods that don’t represent the quality the brand has come to signify.

Leaders are made, not born. Skills are things we can gain and improve upon. This blog is about looking at ways to improve those skills. Those skills cannot be improved upon without effort.

One thought on “What Is Leadership?

  1. Pingback: Effort Reigns Supreme | Brandon's Pursuit of Better Leadership

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