If you have ever wondered what kind of bird you just saw, you know how useful Field Guides are. They provide photos, physical descriptions and locations where the bird can be found. With the advent of technology, my favorite field guides are apps. These apps provide excellent color photos. They also include the sounds which the birds make as being able to compare the sounds can be important. A few years ago, I was at the Lake of the Woods in Canada and could hear this unusual bird call which happened at sunset. Since we were in the woods I never was able to see the bird, even though its sound was quite clear. After much trial and error, I was able to identify the bird, which was new to me, thanks to my electronic field guide.
Unfortunately, birds are much more identifiable and predictable than leaders. Part of this challenge is that in many cases we do not have a common meaning or good understanding for the terms leader and leadership. Our understanding is shaped by our context. As an example, in organizations the term leader often refers to a position more than it does to the capabilities of the incumbent. A person is assumed to be a leader given the position that the person holds. It's as if being a leader was determined as part of the selection criteria for the person being selected for the position. While those of us who have spent much time in organizational life know that is not the case, this background assumption nonetheless persists. Another manifestation of this thinking that leadership is based on position is how the terms leadership and management are used in an organization. In many organizations the terms are used interchangeably, as if to have the same meaning.