What It Means to Be a Leader

February 18, 2017

Often times we imagine leaders as handsome and charismatic people who influence and create great waves of action from the tip of their tongue. Hardly we see them do any grunt work as they’re always doing God-Knows-What in their office. While there might be some truth into that, in hindsight, a real leader does more work than you can imagine.

Leader vs Manager

One thing we do have to clarify is the difference between a leader and a manager. Whether we’re talking about a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop shop, there is a difference between being a leader and being a manger. Hopefully by the time you’re done reading this piece you’ll know the difference and have an understanding of the enormous amount of work it takes be either one.

Managers: Order and Consistency

In an organization, whenever there is a need for a manager, it is usually because there is a sizable amount of staff, inventory and work. There is already a process in place and the need is for someone solely focused on enforcement. Managers are meant to keep order and consistency. They’re focused on the short term goals in performance and results.

Leaders: Innovation and Growth

Leaders, on the other hand, create innovation and growth about an organization. Instead of order and consistency, leaders look for ways of making an organization bigger and better. They are focused on survival and success in the long run.

Anyone Can Be a Leader

Leaderships isn’t a singular trait to be born with, but rather a set of skills that can be learned and attained. A leader, by definition, is a person who leads or commands a group or organization. You are dealing with people to bring about a goal. In most cases, that goal is a positive action to benefit the organization or group itself.

Charisma Not Necessary

Leaders can be charismatic, but they must be transformational. Just because you can express yourself very eloquently doesn’t mean you can inspire change. Poets can be charismatic and their work serves as literary artwork. A leader, however, doesn’t need to be charismatic to be transformational. They must have the ability to inspire change into people at many levels of their psych.

Charisma can be substituted with respect and care for others. By allowing members of an organization find meaning and worth into the tasks at hand, they are essentially becoming loyal followers and are likely to stay in organizations for years to come.

Although charisma isn’t required, they do need to know how to express themselves with others. Not knowing how to give directions is a common pitfall of both leaders and managers. This skill is referred to as transactional leadership. Having the ability to clarify roles and responsibilities.

A real leader will set an example and ethic of what is expected for a task. In a work place, you’ll see them be the first one in the office and the last one out. They’re not focused on job titles or position but making sure they fulfill their work with dignity and order. They hardly ever quit and if something doesn’t get done, they don’t blame it on others.

It’s Not About You Anymore

Finally, in order to fully embrace the role as a leader you have to accept the fact it’s not about you anymore. Instead, it’s about the people you are leading. Your focus shouldn’t on bringing the best about yourself, but rather inspire others to bring out the best about themselves. This can either be by being charismatic or by simply promoting respect and care. A real leader puts others in front of themselves and shows a positive way of doing things.

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