What is true leadership?

Ricardo Melo
3 min readSep 20, 2015

This question has been on the back of my mind for quite some time.

Recently, I started reading more about management and leadership. One of my recent readings is the book Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull (co-founder of Pixar and president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios), and is really great to see the approach that he has regarding management and leadership.

As I was reading the book, I held some ideas and sentences that make all the sense for me, and more clear it became what leadership should be.

“Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.”

One thing that I soon understood is that leadership is not about authority, it is really the opposite of it. Leadership is all about the belief, encouraging and inspiring people. Well at least this is my vision of a good leader.

Today we see many people in senior positions who are not leaders. People do what they say because they have authority over them, but they will not follow them, they will only get the job done as a simple task, and they will not give any more of themselves, just accomplish the requested task.

This is not good for the company or the people. The company does not get a better quality work, the people don’t feel motivated and empowered to create better things, and feel happy by it.

Many companies have people with the responsibility to manage people but very few are really and good leaders.

So, if the job is being done, why I need a leader in my company?

There are several ways to get the job done. One of those is by only complete the tasks that are requested. Like a robot. That does not require any type of commitment from those who do the task.

Another way is to involve the people in the process, make them feel important, and always encourage them to give a bit more, because they can add value to the task. Having that type of involvement, is for sure a great asset for companies and people.

So a leader is the one that gives team members the freedom to explore, experience and to take decisions. He lets them grow by their own choices.

He is the one that is there to guide, help, support and encourage them to face challenges. And more important, is the one that is always there for them and the one that should be responsible for them.

If the team reaches a victory, the leader is the one that gives them credit. He never says ‘I’, but always say ‘We’.

If the team faces a defeat and a negative outcome, he is the one that needs to take all the responsibility, and then internally discuss with the team to find out why the team failed and a way to correct that negative outcome, but never ever let the a team member takes the responsibility alone.

In the end he is the one that takes all the responsibility by the team choices and decisions. For the good and for the bad and he knows how to manage that inside the team.

I believe that all companies need good leaders instead of good bosses. Because a good leader is probably a good boss. And a good leader can lead people to feel part of something bigger.

A good leadership is not rewarded in short therm but in long term. It’s a work in progress and I believe that we will never see an end to it. When a leader stops worrying about the ones that follow them it becomes a boss.

So in summary this is a bit of my vision of the topic “Leadership”.

“Be a leader, not a boss.”
Ricardo Melo