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Are You A Leader, Or Just A Manager?

It seems that on almost a daily basis I see or hear the words “leader” and “manager” used interchangeably.  In fact, I sometimes catch myself using them interchangeably, too.

But, when we look closely, it becomes clear that “leader” and “manager” are not necessarily synonymous.  A leader doesn’t necessarily need to be in a management position.  And there are many people in management positions that are certainly not leaders.

Confused?  I hope to clarify below.

What is a manager?

The first definition of “manager” that appears when I search with Google is “A person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.” For a person to have such responsibilities, they almost always have a title like “manager” or “supervisor” or “director”.  But having a title doesn’t make someone a leader.  If a person has a title but no one is willingly following her or him, then she or he is not a leader.  She or he is just a manager.

What is a leader?

We are only a leader when we are influencing people’s behaviors in a way that results in them willingly following us.   The ability to influence people’s behaviors doesn’t require a title or management position.  The two leaders who were arguably the most influential in history, Jesus and Gandhi, had no title at all.  But they influenced billions of people’s behaviors and billions of people willingly followed them (many still do).  Gandhi’s leadership ended the oppressive British rule over India, liberating hundreds of millions of people.

These two leaders also built their influence in exactly the same way.  They both focused on loving and serving the people around them and they had impeccable character.  I believe that there is no better way to build influence than this.  When people know that we truly care about them and want to help them, they are much more willing to follow us.  When they see that we consistently do the right thing in a caring way, even when it is very difficult to do, we inspire our followers by our example.

What are some ways you are leading by example, whether or not you have a title?

How focused are you on serving your people in ways that help them grow as human beings and achieve greater personal and professional success?

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