Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is Leadership?

We usually know who the leaders are, or we assume we do, from their positions in the organization. We know who is the CEO or who is the Head of School or who is the leader of the marketing group. But, I think too often we assume that the person in that role is a leader, the only leader. I also think that too often we confuse leading with managing. Management is not leadership.

Management is the act of situating the details of a program or idea that is already in place. Managers focus on tasks. They work to get things done. Managers have people whom they manage -- subordinates, "people in my division." Managers are usually not leaders. Managers perpetuate the status quo.

Leaders have causes, ideas that they believe are right and necessary. Leaders focus on people not tasks and checklists. Leaders work to inspire people to be their followers and to help them accomplish the objectives of the cause. Leaders inspires with their vision and their passion. Leaders are following the force of a vision, a right choice, and they expect challenges and hurdles along the way. Leaders do not shy away from conflict, instead they see conflict as necessary to inspire more and right followers. Leaders are not people who seek stability and sameness because leaders are in touch with the ever-changing nature of their environment and the importance of their cause in making a difference in the world.

The table above from provides a nice comparison of leaders and managers.

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