Recent posts have gotten me to thinking about what makes a good leader.

I am thinking of someone I know who I think is an excellent leader. She is always willing to listen. She helps you discover ideas rather than just telling you what you should do. She inspires greatness and creativity in people all around her–beyond just her staff.

The hard part for me is to make the transition from telling people what to do or suggesting what people should do to inspiring them to create their own ideas. Maybe this is something that comes with time? Or maybe this comes from the culture of an organization?

Wikipedia, surprisingly, has a great entry about leadership, and I love this statement.

Management involves power by position.
Leadership involves power by influence.

The article goes on to list twelve distinctions between leaders and managers by Warren Bennis (1989):

  • Managers administer, leaders innovate
  • Managers ask how and when, leaders ask what and why
  • Managers focus on systems, leaders focus on people
  • Managers do things right, leaders do the right things
  • Managers maintain, leaders develop
  • Managers rely on control, leaders inspire trust
  • Managers have a short-term perspective, leaders have a longer-term perspective
  • Managers accept the status-quo, leaders challenge the status-quo
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line, leaders have an eye on the horizon
  • Managers imitate, leaders originate
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier, leaders are their own person
  • Managers copy, leaders show originality

How did you make the transition from follower to leader or manager to leader? I’d love to hear from you and share your story.


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