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You have a choice. You can accept the status quo or you can step up and become the leader you are looking for. Stop waiting and start leading. Leadership is not bestowed. It is not a title. It is earned through action and example.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ~ John C. Maxwell
This series of articles is not about what your leaders need to do to turn you into a leader. This series is about what you can do for yourself to become a leader in your own right. Wherever you sit within an organisation, you can lead.
Magic happens when everyone leads.
The first thing you need to understand as an employee is what is meant by leadership. Leadership is not a title that is bestowed upon you. Leadership is about having a positive impact on those around you.
If you can identify areas of improvement, and rally others to move towards that better place, you are a leader.
If you can connect with other people, have an empathetic approach and motivate them, you are a leader.
If you are respected and trusted, you are a leader.
As Susan Ward writing for The Balance said:
“Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company’s needs.”
Leader versus manager
Tomes have been written about the difference between a manager and a leader and whether a leader is both a leader and a manager. The debate continues to this day.
Leadership and management are intrinsically linked and complementary, but they are not the same thing.
From my perspective, I align with the thinking of American scholar Warren Bennis. In his 1989 book “On Becoming A Leader” he composed a list of the differences.
* The manager administers; the leader innovates.
* The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
* The manager maintains; the leader develops.
* The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
* The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
* The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
* The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
* The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
* The manager imitates; the leader originates.
* The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
* The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
* The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.
Whether you agree or not with the differentiation from Bennis, I think there are key traits that we can extract from the list that make a leader, and extend beyond management duties.
* Growth mindset
* People first
Leadership can be learned. Leadership skills can be developed at anytime in your career.
When we understand what makes good leaders and the difference between leaders and managers, we can develop ways in which to inspire, encourage, and engage.
We can all be leaders.
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