Helping Leadership

Everybody knows what leadership is, actually too many: the definitions, the aspects, the slogans, the warnings, the advices, the receipts, the "rules" are so many ...

How can we keep all that stuff in mind, how can we manage to use it when we're in action?

We need to simplify, integrating as much as possible all that good things, while just and useful they are too much to carry around as they are now: this is the purpose we want to achieve, opening the online lab dedicated to Leadership, at

And let's start simplifying, even if we need, in order to simplify the issue, first focusing the complexity we're dealing with.

Leadership is, simply, helping.

The substance of leadership, in all its various and variegated forms, flashy or subdued, screaming or silent, is always and only the help: we accept the "guide", the advice, the indication of someone if, and only if, it helps us to successfully deal with what we're dealing with.

Simple, isn't it?

No, it's not: what we just did was move, focus on the complexity of what we qualify as leadership, putting full light on helping, what helps, who helps.

Help is anything but a simple thing, as we have seen taking care of the narration at work (see the help, the advice, the guide are accepted if and only if the person who hands them is acknowledged as Helper, and being acknowledged as Helper requires we fulfill very specific conditions.

To avoid any misunderstanding, what we will deal with is leadership, we will NOT deal with so-called leaders, which may seem impossible: how can we deal with leadership without taking care of leaders too?

Yet the thing is relatively simple, since everyone, but all, we had direct experience of leadership, we exercised our leadership: may be more or less numerous occasions when we did it, may be more or less prolongued the time span during which we did it, this does not matter.

Point is that we did it all, more or less successfully.

And we did not end up on the covers of magazines, on the pages of newspapers, on TV screens, in the spotlight of some mass event: we have been silent leaders, quiet, just to use a good definition of about twenty years ago[1].

We will take care of us, therefore, leaving to their destiny, at least for the moment, those who ended up on TV or on the newspapers, only one note: interesting enough that to promote initiatives of work, study, disclosure related to leadership, the organizers call into play people of some notoriety, if not clearly famous, almost without exception.

With this trying to improve, evidently, the chances of cash and public success, while leveraging on a pattern of thinking that humans are predisposed to take for good[2]: if he/she is famous then his/her leadership succeeds, if it succeeds then then it works, if it works then he/she is a leader, if he/she is a leader then he/she knows what effective leadership is, if he/she knows what effective leadership is then he/she can give me something good.

The chain of syllogisms (if-then) is among the most inviting and risky forms of human thought, it simplifies our everyday life but does not necessarily help to achieve the goals: in this case, for each if-then-step we could easily find exceptions and elements that denieeach conclusion, we restrict ourselves to two if-thens.

“If  he/she is a leader then he/she he knows what effective leadership is” - Even if the subject in question is a leader, act in such a way as to be recognized as a leader, he/she does not necessarily know what leadership is: between being champions in exercising any skill and knowing how and why you are champions, there is not a relationship of double implication: you can be excellent even without knowing how and why.

“If he/she knows what leadership is then he/she can teach me something.” - Even assuming that the subject in question knows how and why he/she is a champion (and no one really can), has full and conscious knowledge of  all the elements that contribute to generate his/her excellent performance (and no one really can), not necessarily he/she is able to transfer this knowledge to others.

So we will deal with leadership, and not leaders in the spotlight: how?

We have identified in helping the substance of which the leadership is made, and in the narration the general form in which it manifests itself, form that assumes different configurations from time to time, compatible and coherent with helping the Leadee: the proof of the existence and effectiveness of the leadership, of course, is provided only by the Leadee, the one who is helped to deal successfully with what he has to do with.

In order to ground our current knowledge we need cases, the narration of situations we have been, where at least a Leadee and a leader are into play, without excluding, of course, the group of Leadees with its leader.

I gladly make available some cases that I have dealt with, and I remain open to the possibility of dealing with the cases of those who will want to present them: contact helpingleadership[at]

For this reason, the lab is open to everybody, not only for free consultation, but also for the possibility to propose cases, what have happened and happens to us, in order to squeeze from our experience what we need to be better helpers and better leaders.

Quiet and effective leaders.

[1] Valuable contribution to the understanding of leadership, Leading quietly: an unusual guide to doing the right thing, Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2002

[2] How and why we can argue that "humans are predisposed to take it for good" would probably deserve to be more closely reasoned, we ought to postpone, for reasons of narrative economy.