The Fine Line…

There is a fine line between leadership and management.  The line is in continuous flux, hence the understanding that those who espouse to be a leader or a manager, must be flexible enough to adapt to the given situation at hand.  One must know when to be a manager, and when to become a servant, a leader.

The most important factor in determining when the line starts to blur, is for one to gain an understanding of what constitutes leadership, and what constitutes management.  True leaders lead by example and inspire others to greatness.  Managers generally default to their position power and / or title to extract effort from others in task accomplishment.

In general, if one were to visit a given organization and randomly inquire of the people to identify a leader by name, most will offer the name of the CEO.  This misunderstanding of associating leader with the individual who tops the hierarchal chain is a misnomer at best.  Unfortunately, misguided information regarding what constitutes leadership is being passed along by academics, citing examples of people holding authoritative positions being passed off as leaders.  The mere study of leadership, does not a leader make.

However, people holding positions of authority in organizations “can” become leaders.  Certainly those in an authoritative role are afforded the freedom and autonomy to act in a leader-like manner.  There are both flawed and exemplary cases, which can be brought to bear, of authority figures in action; those who drank the proverbial Kool-Aid and went down the road of non-leader-like behaviors, and those who performed extraordinary acts of selfless leadership.

An effective leader must be a good manager and a good manager must be an effective leader.  If the goal of an organization is to maximize profits, then both the manager AND the leader must be actively engaged in the growth and development of people.  Leaders are those who encourage, care, recognize, praise, coach, and mentor; in short, leaders should be in the business of developing their replacement.  The truest form of leadership focuses on the follower, and not self.

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