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Ryan McKinney

Associate Director of Campus Activities, The Catholic University of America

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Titles are essential for leadership

We have all been taught that you don't need a title to be a leader but no one I've interacted with actually believes that. We look to those with titles as the leaders.
Leadership is about relationships and titles help define the relationship you have to someone or something.
Every relationship has a title and every relationship needs leadership skills and knowledge to help it grow - thus every relationship title is a leadership title. Employee, sister, father, stranger, student, musician, cousin, roommate, pilot, supervisor, American, homeowner, etc. These are all titles and if people viewed them as leadership titles maybe we'd take more responsibility for the influence we have in those roles.

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    Sep 19 2012: I think more specifically, leadership is about having followers. Without followers, how can one be a leader? And there are certain qualities/properties that leaders have that followers respect enough for them to listen/follow. This could be personality and character, ideology, money and material possessions, technical prowess, intelligence, etc.

    Titles are one mean to gain respect for others to follow/listen to someone, but they aren't the only way to sell the image.
    • Sep 19 2012: Exactly - without relationships you can't lead. Every relationships has a title - thus you need a title to lead. We just need to expand what we mean by leadership title.
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        Sep 19 2012: Then I guess the your definition/usage of the word "title" is loosely defined that's synonymous to "brand", "image", "identity", and less formal names. If so, then this can cause confusion to most people because someone's title is usually referred to in a more formal manner.
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      Sep 20 2012: It's late in the game but let's define "leader". Webster's says: "a person or thing that leads; directing, commanding or guiding head, as of a group or activity." Do you think that will fly as the meaning of the word "leader" in this debate?
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        Sep 20 2012: Yeah, it still can probably. Even a kid can be an emotional leader, unaware of his/her status. Anything can become an icon, and iconic figures are representations of ideas that people believe in and follow. Is it really Martin Luther King Jr. himself that people followed or was it the idea of what he represents that people followed? Or in a religious sense, is it God that people follow or is it the idea of what God represents that people follow?

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