Having spent the last 40 years in management the debate over what is or is not leadership continues. Leadership; the demonstrated ability to see a vision, understand the importance of the needs of others, a willingness to change your style based on the needs of the organization and understanding that leadership happens through reinvention of self, are some examples of what I believe characterize leadership. You may often hear people tell whomever will listen about their own leadership abilities when that telling is probably a true “tell.”
For the most part they are not leaders and I would debate if they are managers. Most of these who talk about their overreaching abilities to lead or manage are seen in only one eye, their own. Please do not assume through my own definition or views that leaders are not important or correct in their own abilities but leadership and management most likely come naturally without a great deal of bravado. Great Leaders Lead with excellence and understand how, why and when. Great Mangers Manage with excellence and understand how, why and when. Most of these individuals on either side of this equation do not need to be told how to make it happen; why they need to make it happen or when they should manage or lead. It comes very naturally and without definition or permission to do what is needed. It is a natural process that each of these individuals understands clearly.
The “real” leaders and managers do not really need to be told they are great. These individuals know their true calling and that is to serve others. Yes, both of these groups are in their roles to serve the needs of others. One group, the leaders, lead toward the future and know how to make that happen without being told how to change the future of an organization. Without great managers great leaders will fail. As a result those who are truly great leaders know how to select great managers. These managers then move the vision to a reality by managing not only the people but the processes. Within this relationship a key element must exist, trust. Both roles must trust each other to do what is needed to make a difference in the organization’s outcomes. Both of these groups must leave the other alone to do what is needed. After all, the tasks, challenges and skill sets required are very different and the leaders and managers must recognize those facts.
This is often a tenuous relationship when the leader and manager roles are not clearly defined or one member of these two distinct groups believe that power is more important than understanding each other’s roles, responsibilities, needs and separate skill sets. A very important characteristic other than trust is integrity and with that a willingness to do the right thing, always. With trust and integrity comes an honest understanding that not everyone can be in charge, lead or manage. Someone needs to follow the lead and someone needs to make it happen. There is a big difference in who does what! Management is very important and with the right leadership that understands the difference, it can be GREAT.