What is the Essence of Leadership? (The Best Answer)

What is the Essence of Leadership.

What is the essence of leadership?

If you had to boil leadership down into its core components, what would those be?

If you could summarize it down to a single word, or 2-3 words, what words would you choose?

Depending on who you ask, you will likely get different answers.

For me, there are actually two parts to this. There is one word that I believe summarizes the essence of leadership, and there are two components that form the basis of leadership.

What is the one word that summarizes the essence of leadership?


Service. Leadership is built around service.

Leadership is about leading a group of people through influence toward accomplishing a mission, vision, or goal.

It’s not about you as the leader, your agenda, your perks, your authority or power, or whatever some think leadership is about. It’s not about you.

It’s about serving your team and helping them be their best and accomplish their best toward the accomplishment of those goals.

Your job as a leader isn’t about performing yourself but accomplishing through others. You do that through service.

Leadership is built around service. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

The two components of leadership

The two components of leadership

There are also what I (and others) would consider the basic components of leadership that almost everything else is built off of.

They are this – Trust and competence.

In fact, Simon Sinek discusses this concept in his book The Infinite Game and a speech he gave (we will link the video on youtube at the bottom).

Sinek discusses how the Navy Seals consider these two components. They see competence as “Do I trust you with my life” and trust as “Do I trust you with my money and my wife.”

They found that when you have low trust and high competence, you have a toxic leader. They found they rather have high trust and mid/mid-low competence than the other option. Ideally, you have a high of both.

Trust is important as a leader. Without trust, you’re toxic and you will have a hard time influencing people. I consider influence as part of trust in this (and influence may be another word some consider as the essence of leadership).

You have to have trust, or you aren’t going to be a good leader.

But, you also have to be competent – at least to a point. If all you do is get along with people but never move toward the goal or accomplish anything or do any of your leadership functions well, you aren’t being effective either.

It takes both.

So what does this mean to you?

Why is this important?

First, examine yourself. Are you about service? Or are you about yourself?

Can people trust you? How well do they trust you?

Do you get results? How competent are you?

One good practice is to ask others and get feedback on how well you are doing.

If you find yourself weak in an area, what should you do?

Work on it.

If you aren’t a person people can trust, that is the first thing you need to make right. Integrity and trust is vital in leadership. It’s easy to lose and takes time to gain.

Competence takes time, especially if you are new. It’s okay if you aren’t super competent “yet”, just keep working on it.

And if you have the wrong mentality, change it. Start seeking how you can serve your team instead of them serving you.

Do this, follow “the essence of leadership”, and you will start to become a much more effective leader.

If you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, disagreements, or anything we missed, please let us know in the comments below.

You can find more related articles here.


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