Dr Penner presenting at the Power of Inclusion Conference 2013

Dr Penner presenting at the Power of Inclusion Conference 2013 (photo by Jordan Trent)

SHARING SOME QUESTIONS.  The purpose of this website is to ask questions, collect some thoughts, share a few examples and reference research about leadership in an effort to introduce, remind or energize those with leadership opportunities. That should include all of us. Leadership is not a position or title. It is not the first or fastest. Nor is it the one with all the answers. So what is leadership? Although frequently asked and variously answered, the answer still eludes us. At first the answer seems simple, but the more we look into it the more complex it becomes.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP?  Some say leadership is influence, authority, dominance or direction. Others believe it is the right “to tell others what to do.” But we know that leadership is not power-and-control. We sometimes confuse the two ideas and end up diminishing the efforts of those around us. We also know that it is not the same as management although the two work together to accomplish the goals of the organization or community. The skills of management are helpful in organizing our current efforts, ensuring quality and making the best use of our resources. On the other hand, and as we look more broadly, leadership’s focus is what might be called ‘attentiveness to the future’ and with it 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, ‘shaping our futures through conversations on subjects that matter.’ All this together suggests the most empowering leadership is about creating an environment where people do the best work of their lives.

LEADERSHIP IS NEEDED EVERYWHERE. Leadership is the critical component in any group, community, or organization. Leadership is expected of persons in positions of authority. But a general mindset for leadership is needed everywhere, in institutions, organizations and communities. It also occurs at all levels, ‘at the top’, ‘at the point of contact’ and ‘in between’. What is leadership?  Explore some ideas about leadership (links on the right).