What is Leadership? A Definition

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what is leadership

Leadership in Times of Change – The personality as a success factor in today’s growth markets

What is leadership? Leading change and managing the according strategies are the success factors in today´s fast paced VUCA world. In the transforming markets, companies are facing completely different challenges than they did 15 years ago. Technological innovations, new digital sales channels, the change from the production to the information society and the increasing interconnectedness of global markets have made one thing particularly clear: Technical qualifications account for only 20% of the company’s success.

The other 80% depend on the leadership qualities of their executive managers. Instead of exchangeable specialist skills, it is all about creativity, ideas and identification of the people involved that allow a company to grow and survive in the market in the long term. This applies to large corporations just as much as it does to medium-sized companies and Internet start-ups.

What is leadership? – A definition of leadership

Leadership is the art of leadership. But not every person who owns a leadership position actually behaves like a leader, because very often, the phrases “leadership” and “management” get mixed up.

My definition of leadership is as follows:

Leadership is the ability to give a group of people a (new) vision and direction, so that they can identify with the goal and culture in an activating way. A good leader is able not only to formulate this vision in a linguistically attractive way, but also to fill it with values and beliefs and – the most important prerequisite of all – to exemplify it through one’s own actions.

Management, on the other hand, can be defined as follows:

Management is the ability to – within an existing team – direct, control and make optimal use of the people, processes and resources involved on the basis of established values, beliefs and rules.

However, if an executive has both leadership and management qualities, it is very likely that he or she will have above-average success with his or her team.

Leadership is defined by the Impact of the Leader, not by the Title

At the age of 27, Ilja Grzeskowitz was the youngest store manager of a large German retail group.  He started at a time when every third store was closed, sales figures were declining and the majority of the managers under his supervision were twice as old as he himself. One thing soon became clear: his university diploma was no help at all. Instead, even in difficult times, he managed to win over his employees and convey his strategic vision and leadership philosophy to them. With a motivating and trusting changemaker attitude, he succeeded in initiating necessary change processes, which were implemented by everyone with great commitment and dedication. Today – as a global conference speaker – he answers the question “What is leadership?” in companies and organizations and shows ways for successful leadership.


  • […] Leadership and successful change go hand in hand. The key is to take personal responsibility (independent of the actual hierarchical position), but at the same time to be successful as a team. This means that self-leadership is  important in the first step, because only those who are able to lead themselves can lead others and inspire them for new ideas and new ways of doing things. Successful change leadership is based on the following factors (in addition to the motive and common values): […]

  • […] focused on achieving results. But what does the term leadership actually mean? In my article “What is leadership?” I defined it as […]