Definition of Leadership

Newton Holt writes a great article about Howard Gardner’s “Five Minds” research (Five Minds for the Future) in Associations Now. It reminded me a bit of the Ancona et al. article in Harvard Business Review that talked about the four basic leadership abilities in that Gardner’s model also says that effective leadership requires a very diverse set of abilities, and you shouldn’t expect every individual to be GREAT in all of the areas. In short, leadership is not just about individual capabilities.

In the first of what I know will be many quotes from the Peter Senge sessions I went to on Friday, he gave a great definition of leadership:

Leadership is a capacity in the human community to shape its future.

You can change the words “human community” to be “organization,” or “team,” but it has to be a group. Leadership has individual capabilities, but it by definition is also a collective capability. So when you understand different components of leadership (like Gardner’s five minds), you should then look to develop those capabilities in the system, not just in the people who are in “leadership positions.”


  1. 15.10.2007 at 10:42 am

    Your conclusion to this post is very good! Glad you linked to this from your late-October post.