Leadership vs Management: What is a Leader, Really?

What is Leadership?

Are you good at something? Gather a tribe of like-minded people and help them realize their potential in that area you excel in.

We all need to be a part of some form of community; it’s woven into our genes and coiled into the strings of our DNA.

Should everyone try to lead their community? No, not everyone wants to, and not everyone is able to be a leader – but everyone should  lead at some point or an other (We’ll revisit this later).

The Devolving of Lifestyle and Leadership

Over the course of time leadership has devolved in a sense. The rich and fulfilling lifestyle of variety and craftsmanship (think Leonardo da Vinci and other Renaissance Men) has devolved into the insect-like specialization of assembly lines, factory work, and mouse-poking, cubicle-bound, nerdanderthals (see what I did there?).

Simultaneously, leadership has taken a similar course, devolving from the dynamic, transformational leadership of the past to the primordial, monkey-like operations of the modern manager. Am I saying there are no true leaders today? Kind of.  Think about it, how many bosses have you had that you can say without a doubt in your mind were great leaders? I can count on one finger the number of bosses that I considered a great leader. But more importantly, why is this true?

Leadership vs Management – What’s the Difference?

The typical modern leader is a transactional manager. They say ‘Do this, and that’ and people do it because they respect their title. And that is one of the fundamental differences between the manager and a true leader – the manager manages transaction, and the leader transforms people after earning respect.

Leaders earn their position (Note: when I say position I am referring to the position of respect they earn, not their given title) by:

1.     Excelling in a skill or in multiple arenas, thus earning the respect of potential followers.

2.     Sharing what they know to help others gain their ability.

3.     Leading the followers toward a common goal during the process.

Look at every great leader from the past and you notice that trend – they gathered people who wanted to go where they were going, and get what they were getting.

They were able to do this by excelling at something.

Generals were respected and followed because of strategic brilliance. Peaceful leaders were respected and followed for their irreproachable morals and noble ideals. Revolutionary leaders (and often dictators) solidified their position through brave demonstration and courageous acts that helped deliver an oppressed group of people. All leaders excel at something, and help others with their abilities.


Image Credit (Originally uploaded by rajkumar1220)