Leader is a Verb.
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

We often use “leader” or “supervisor” or “boss” as a noun.  These words are far too often seen as a title.  However, leadership requires action.  We look to leaders to act on our values and our priorities and our challenges.  Therefore, “leader” must be a verb.

If we imagine “leader” as a verb we are drawn to plan – and live – differently.  Acting moves us to the next phase of our growth plan. It challenges us to take the next important risk.  It carries us forward. In today’s world, we must keep acting on the priorities and creating our next opportunities.  That’s why we need more leaders who see their roles as verbs instead of as nouns.

We have all met leaders who are verbs – and those who are nouns.  Leaders as verbs are looking for the next set of actions needed to be successful—sitting still is not their thing.  Moving forward is their way of getting people motivated and excited.  I have seen this time and time again in the success stories I have learned about.  Leaders and their teams take action to create a new product, or a new way of making a product, or an improved process. Sure, there are times not to act – to make sure it is the right action at the right time.  But, in general, progress requires leaders with a tendency to act.

Leaders need to think a lot about actions – verbs – in today’s competitive environment.  Doing so provides the context for inspiring teams.  Leaders need to praise others when they act – even if it was less than perfect.  Acting imperfectly almost always wins over no action at all. And, if leadership is demonstrated by action – can all be leaders?  Doesn’t it expand who gets to lead in our organizations?  Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

As a leader, are you thinking – and acting – like a verb or a noun?  How can you encourage others to be people of action?  I am more and more convinced that we need leaders who act – verbs – and not who just have titles – nouns.  What’s your next action?