What is the difference between leaders and managers?
Some say leaders point out right things to do, while managers ensure that things are done correctly.
Following that definition, anyone can be a leader when his/her experience and knowledge provide the key to overcoming an obstacle.
LEADERSHIP IS AN ACT OF CREATION
This writer’s definition is that “leadership is the creation of structures and processes through which people participate in achieving worthwhile goals.”
This could happen more often if rank, hierarchy, and old ideas about social distance between bosses and workers did not interfere.
Such constraints keep both managers and workers from reaching out to include and share, and still operate in too many work places.
In his exciting 1997 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman pulled together a lot of research to demonstrate that “the qualities of leadership and the qualities of the heart….are largely the same.”
That means simple ideas about caring and sharing and working together toward common goals are the building blocks of leadership. Add to those the ability to project a vision with challenging roles for all and worthwhile outcomes, and the “raw material” of leadership is in view.
How do you develop leaders who can guide their organizations to succeed in a global economy being shaped by unprecedented combinations of cultures and technologies? How do you develop competent managers? One requirement is that leaders invest time in developing their successors, in challenging all the assumptions about “how it is now” to see if those conditions will continue. Probably they will not.
PECULIAR – BUT NECESSARY
It takes a peculiar kind of courage to admit that what is will not be adequate in the future.
More fundamentally, managers need a peculiar kind of courage to reach out to employees, to ask their opinions, to teach them to become fully-participating members of the organization’s problem-solving system. Leaders cannot be developed when 2 or 3 managers, talking behind closed doors, make all the decisions and give orders.
A contemporary corporate hero, Jack Welch of General Electric, is said to have participated in developing over 15,000 leaders, asking them to think about tomorrow’s customers, their needs, and how GE must reshape itself to respond.
SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS
Asking tough questions, listening actively, and participating fully in the dialog about profitable and business-building responses might be a useful way to characterize leaders and the things they do to create role models that others can replicate.