As I wrote just a couple of days ago in my initial offering on the subject of “Leadership,” there are people who proclaim themselves as leaders without understanding the many roles or characteristics that encompass such a declaration. Titles like President, Board Chair, or Director of (fill in the blank) have little insight on whether a person has leadership qualities. In other words, a title does not make a leader.
Do you equate leadership and management? Corporate America taught me the vast distinction. A leader communicates the direction they want to take – the decision is made. A manager takes that direction and determines the best way to achieve the desired results. Lee Iacocca (former Chairman & CEO of Chrysler) put this difference in a very amusing way: “Sometimes even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so that he can take him there.” For all intensive purposes, a manager can follow a map. A leader knows where the map is going to take you.
In “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber, the first chapter is entitled: “The Entrepreneur Myth.” The myth is that someone who knows the technical side of an art or craft also knows the technical side to running the business. The baker knows how to bake, the hair dresser knows how to cut hair, the graphic artist knows how to create logos – but do they know how to create an income stream from their passion? A start-up business goes under way too often because they either don’t have sufficient capital to sustain them until the business becomes successful, or they have a great product or service but don’t know how to run a business.
Intelligence does not make a leader. I know many people that possess high IQs but have trouble interacting with people. People that are book smart and street dumb. Think-tanks, universities, research center, etc. are full of geniuses. Aptitude does not necessarily relate to the quality of leadership.
Another person that I admire is Colin Powell. He, along with General Norman Schwarzkopf, led U.S. forces for Operation Desert Shield to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraq. When speaking on the topic of “Leadership,” Mr. Powell stated: “You have achieved excellence as a leader when people will follow you everywhere if only out of curiosity.”
“It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position” (Stanley Huffy). To move people in a new direction, you need influence. You may be able to charm people while they are in your presence but there is no long-term affect once they have an opportunity to give your concept ample consideration. In as simplest of terms as I can think of, “Leadership is Influence” or the ability to get people to participate in your cause.