I read another article today on the difference between leadership and management. The writer, someone I appreciate, but from the industrial revolution, talked about leadership as a position. People in positions of leadership need the skills of leadership, vision setting, communication, etc. I don’t disagree.
However our free-agent age or our age of the individual has created a new need in relation to leadership. Rather than comparing leadership to some other talent within the organization, we need people throughout the organization with diverse talents who are leaders. Do you feel particularly gifted in management, administration, finance, engineering, marketing, sales, logistics, or operations? Your organization needs your ability in those positions.
But if we are going to make a difference in our world, we need more character-based leaders in each of those positions. We need leadership to stop being something “other than” management, administration, engineering, etc. We need managers, administrators, engineers who are leaders at their core. This is why I often equate leadership with responsibility.
If you tend to think of leadership as a position, you probably just bristled at my last sentence. You might have instantly thought “Everyone can’t be the leader” and you’d be right. Everyone can’t “be responsible.” Everyone can’t be in the position of leadership. But is a leader simply a position?
A leader is someone who develops a vision, takes responsibility, finds solutions, provides an example, influences by their actions. A character-based leader does this as a result of who-they-are. You can’t stop them. Their core being causes them to be the type of person who brings emotional energy to a situation, solves for the good of the many, and inspires others by their actions. It’s who they are, not their position, that produces this behavior. Who would argue with the idea that we need more people to behave that way regardless of their position in any organization?
So why then do we insist that leaders be something other than managers (or engineers, secretaries, technicians, truck drivers, speakers, preachers, farmers, politicians, engineers or individual contributors of any kind)? When will we get over the idea that we must stop being something to be a leader? When will we see that we need a world of leaders, responsibly bringing their best energy to solve problems for more than just themselves.
Care to comment? Do you disagree? Let me know. Do you catch yourself thinking of a particular type of job that isn’t performed better by someone who brings energy and commitment to it? Do you really want people who aren’t leaders doing anything? Really?
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