The recent departure of Steven Sinofsky from the ranks of Microsoft’s senior management presents an ideal opportunity to use the five dimensions of meta-leadership to dissect why some succeed and others fail as leaders. Part of the problem may be that too many in organizations and in the media automatically call senior executives “leaders” whether or not they actually demonstrate leadership.

“At the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, we use the simplest definition of leader that I have come across: people follow you. This definition intentionally omits any reference to rank or role. We see leadership as behavior-based. “Leader” is not a title you are handed just because you sit in a certain spot in a hierarchy; you have to earn it from those you aspire to have follow you.”

Sinofsky may have been a tech visionary. He may even have been an exceptional manager. Evidence would suggest, however, that he was not much of a leader. And that may have been his Achille’s heel.

We have a collective responsibility to be stewards of the term “leader.” It is not to be handed to just anyone — no matter how brilliant.

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