The Definition of Leadership

by Sharlyn Lauby on December 11, 2011

I’m always amazed when I read articles comparing management and leadership.  I’m not really sure why people leader, manager, leadership, management, power, influencecontinuously compare the two.  They are two completely different things.  It’s like comparing apples and pianos.

If you Google the definition of manager, it says a manager is a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company/organization.  And if you do the same with leader, it’s a person who has influence or power.  This tells us a couple of things.

Leaders exist at every level of an organization.  They might also be managers.  Or maybe not.

If you’re a manager, you have some leadership power by virtue of your position.

Comparing management and leadership can imply a zero-sum game.  That is, great managers aren’t great leaders and vice versa.  When the reality is, they perform two different roles in the organization.  And companies need both of them to be successful.

Companies need leaders beyond the ones holding a manager or director job title.

If we genuinely want to cultivate leadership within our organizations, we have to recognize that leadership exists in everyone.  It’s about understanding how an individual’s leadership manifests itself in actions and behaviors.  It’s about using our leadership ability in the right way and at the right times.

It’s not about comparing and contrasting leadership and management.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.  Is it time to bury the leadership versus management conversation?  Or is the connection – and possible disconnection – between the two justified?

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