My website headline is 'Developing Leadership for the 21st Century' since I prefer to emphasise the growth of attributes that may exist in everyone, not just in those people designated as Leader. But what's the difference between Leader and Leadership? One way to think about this is to start with the meaning of that four-letter difference.
The suffix '-ship' is used to form nouns that denote states or condition, and digging down, we can use its nuances to see different perspectives on leadership:
- '-ship' as a state or condition, such as relation or friend, (kinship, friendship). What is my boss to me? is he or she my leader, meaning more to me than just being my senior? We instinctively sense the quality of this condition or connection.
- '-ship' as a skill or power, such as scholarship or craftsmanship. Much is written, analysed, evaluated and trained around this aspect of leadership, because we want our leaders to have appropriate expertise and mastery in order to lead us well.
- '-ship' as an office, rank or profession, such as Ladyship, apprenticeship. How well do you as a leader occupy your position and honour the role? This is a question of fully assuming the authority granted to you as leader and wisely deploying its power.
- One final '-ship' denotes a number, such as a followership or a readership. As a collective noun, the leaders of an organisation are often referred to as the leadership team. You might ask how effective is this group? How deserving is the leadership of a healthy and enthusiastic followership?
So we can say that leadership itself comprises intermingling factors and the purpose of leadership development encompasses them all. We see that the individual relational aspect is important, as well as the mastery of leadership skills. We must fully step up into a leadership role when called upon, and remember that we form part of a collective as a leader and so by default we share responsibility.
What aspects of leadership do you think are well-developed or under-developed in yourself, your colleagues, or your organisation?