Lead from Strength™: Mastering the Three “Sides” of Leadership

by Wayne Ottum

“You manage things; you lead people.”
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

 “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
General Dwight Eisenhower

 “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership.
That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
Warren Bennis

Leadership.  There are plenty of great quotes about it, but what does it really mean?  To begin any discussion of leadership, the best place to start is with a definition.  You know when you are in the presence of a great leader and when you’re not, but most of us struggle to define the term.  Of course, the desire to “define” leadership is so that we can “become” a better leader.  We think, perhaps rightly, that if it is definable, it can be replicated.

The following definition can be found in the dictionary[1]



[lee-der-ship] noun

  1. the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.
  2. ability to lead: Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness; sway, clout.
  3. an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction:
  4. the leaders of a group:

Ah…, not very helpful when you’re trying to figure out HOW to lead, is it?  Reading through The 100 Best Quotes on Leadership[2], you will find dozens of different “definitions” from a wide variety of authors.  But how do you take that and discover your own leadership style, through trial and error?  Not the best approach.

So, how DO we define leadership?  The most practical, simple definitions I have run across in my 30+ years of experience, are shown in the first two quotes listed above…  “You manage things, you lead people.”  Leadership is about getting people to accomplish something, whether it be a fundraising goal, a software development project, or a business objective.  Leadership is strictly a people-centered endeavor.  The other, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it,” refers to the art of leadership – being able to guide and inspire others so they willingly take action to achieve an objective as if it was their idea and for their own compelling reasons.

Given these clarifications, the role of a leader is to use your own natural gifts to get others to accomplish an objective using their natural gifts and internal motivation.  Therefore, leadership can be broken down into three specific “sides:”

 Three Sides of Leadership

Each of these sides have certain factors that define them.  We will detail each “side” in upcoming blog posts; however, for now, here is a brief description of each side:

  • The Situation: Define the situation, what needs accomplished, and set a clear and compelling vision of accomplishment.  It is understanding what is needed, in terms of human and other resources, to achieve success and developing the plan to achieve it.
  • Followers: Understand their strengths.  Those you are leading bring their own Unique Gifts to the situation and there are specific things they need consistently from their leader (such as trust, compassion, stability and hope).  The important point is that followers ONLY bring their unique gifts to the situation.  As leaders, we cannot ask people to do more than they are capable, but we can ask then to do all they are capable of doing!
  • You (the Leader): Understand your own strengths.  You also only bring your Unique Gifts to your role as leader.  You cannot lead in a way that is not natural.  Followers will see right through the facade and will not find what they need in you as a leader.  Thus, aligning your leadership to your own unique gifts and choosing to “lead from strength” is the only way to create the optimal chance for leadership success, and the optimal opportunity for fulfillment as a leader.


Mastering the Three Sides

Mastering the three “sides” of leadership, therefor, means…

  • Understanding how to: clearly define the situation; paint a compelling vision of success; specify the resources needed, human and otherwise; and develop a clear plan of action to achieve the vision.  If you cannot define and articulate what needs to be done, how can you expect followers to follow?
  • Understanding the unique gifts of those you lead and aligning them to the tasks at hand so they are naturally motivated to act while providing them the emotional grounding they need from you as a leader.  Tapping into their natural gifts and motivations empowers them to act, willingly and continually, to create success.
  • Understanding yourself and the unique gifts you bring to the table as a leader and using these gifts to the fullest to strengthen the other two sides of leadership.  In short, to master the three “sides” of leadership you must first master you!

Imagine your followers naturally and enthusiastically compelled to act to create the very success you seek in your business.  No more prodding, pushing or cajoling them to act.  Imagine feeling naturally and intrinsically empowered to lead from a place of confidence, strength and authenticity.  Imagine you and your followers feeling a deep sense of personal fulfillment in your individual roles while each of you are appreciated for the unique gifts you bring to the table.  Imagine this being your workplace.  Imagine the improved sense of teamwork, togetherness, and productivity.  You don’t have to imagine anymore!  This is the power, confidence and fulfillment that comes when you Lead from Strength.™


If you would like more information on our Lead from Strength™ methodology, send us an email at info@ottumenterprises.com.  You can also discover and learn how to use your unique gifts by reading our book, Live from Strength – Discover your unique gifts and the incredible power already within you!  Click here to purchase your copy today.  For more information about what it means to Lead, Live & Love from Strength™, visit us at ottum2.wpengine.com.


About the Author

Wayne Ottum is the President and founder of Ottum Enterprises, LLC, a consulting firm committed to guiding business owners, executives and individuals to ever greater levels of success through discovering and fully utilizing their unique gifts.  An expert in clarity and widely known as the “Coach’s Coach,” Wayne’s trademarked coaching processes guide you to discover the personal and authentic clarity that empowers you to take confident action, each and every day, to achieve what you deeply desire.  Wayne is also an exciting motivational speaker, and provides many “ah-ha” moments for every audience.  He is the author of Live from Strength, creator of the Lead from Strength™ methodology, and director of the Business Growth Challenge™ consulting process.  Built on over 30 years of experience, Wayne guides you to Lead, Live & Love from Strength™.  Follow him on Twitter at @WayneOttum or @OttumEnterprise and find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/wayne-ottum/0/31/958/.

[1] Dictionary.com

[2] The 100 Best Quotes on Leadership, Kevin Kruse, Forbes.com, 10/16/2012