Is Leadership Defined by a Title?

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”

~ William Arthur Wood

Is Leadership Defined by a Title?

By Sean Lynch

When discussing leadership, or explaining leader development, it is interesting how often two sentiments find their way into a conversation.  Often people will say, “We don’t want to put folks in charge if they don’t want to be.”  Or, someone will point out, “We have successful individuals, but they don’t have employees who report to them.”

Both statements indicate to me the extent to which organizations associate leadership with a title or a role that involves supervising others (many companies refer to upper management as “leadership”).  Those comments also imply confusion about what leadership really is.

Leadership is not synonymous with a title.  You don’t magically become a leader when promoted to vice-president.  And, you don’t have to wait to be a leader until you are given management authority over other employees.

At Lead Star, we say that you manage things like staffing, budgets, computers, and resources.  You have to lead people.  We define a leader as someone who influences outcomes and inspires others.  You don’t need direct-reports, fancy titles, a corner office, or a designer suit to influence and inspire those around you.

We can all be leaders.  From the new-hire to the old-hat, we can all be leaders in the roles that we fill at work, at home, and in the community.  We influence and inspire, not by our title or position, but by the behaviors that we demonstrate.  When problems or challenges arise, do we respond in a manner that inspires those around us to strive for continuous improvement?  Or, does our reaction alienate?  Do we strive to meet all performance standards?  Are we looking for opportunities to serve our co-workers?

You don’t have to be in charge, or have direct-reports, to be a leader.  Leadership is the ability to influence and inspire those around you.  We can all demonstrate leadership behaviors and become better leaders.

This article was provided courtesy of Lead Star – a premiere leadership development firm. You can learn more about leadership by visiting their website at

Your Call to Action

Observe the “leaders” in your work and life.  How do they show up?  What did you learn that can make you a better leader? Please take a minute to share your thoughts here.