Defining leadership (by Carlee)

“What is leadership?”

Of all the questions I’ve been asking this summer (and mind you, there are many), this may be myfavorite. Is it because people give me such meaningful definitions? Yes, but that’s not why I love the question. I love the question because of the look I get immediately after I ask it. Sometimes it’s the look of  “how dare you ask me such a thing.” Sometimes it’ s the look of “how in the world am I going to answer this?” Mostly it’s the look I get because for as much of a buzzword as “leadership” is these days, we really struggle to define what it means to us.

Generally, after a few moments of staring off into space, people offer pretty profound, insightful, and very interesting ideas of what leadership is. 

I’ve clearly been living in the land of leadership these days at Floricane as I work on my summer internship project to help illustrate the Floricane leadership philosophy and model. I’ve had many conversations asking about leadership with former clients, partners, and friends to help clearly define what exactly leadership means to Floricane.

Lucky for me, Floricane’s Summer of Self-Discovery series is also revolving on leadership this year. In hopes of getting a few answers – and maybe even letting John, Debra and Theron just tell me what leadership is – I was very eager to join the mix at the first session this past week, which did not disappoint.

A room full of people joined in a conversation that revolved around the principles of “The Leadership Challenge.” My group sunk our teeth into the principle of setting the example:  how and when should a leader model behavior. When is it better to stop talking and start walking the walk? As one person shared, sometimes being the first to arrive and the last to leave can send a more powerful message than any talk one can give about commitment. 

We also heard from other groups on their take on the other principles of great leadership, such as fostering collaboration, taking risks, and envisioning the future. Each group came with unique experiences and perspectives that enriched the principles that Kouzes and Posner offered in their book. 

I left the workshop one step closer in my journey to uncover Floricane’s leadership model. As I wrap up my conversations and experience the remaining Summer of Self-Discovery workshops, I’m excited to discover the answer to the question, “What is leadership?”