I’ve spent considerable time researching and studying leadership. I’ve read many definitions of leadership. There are two words that are in almost every definition: “process” and “change.” Sometimes the word influence is used in place of the word change and relationship is quite frequently used in these definitions. So let’s consider for a second the 3 key ideas that you see in these definitions.
Process – this asserts that leadership is something that takes place over time working toward an end, moving people forward.
Change (Influence) – this asserts that leadership works with people to make the organization better. In transformational leadership, there is also a focus on the individuals involved, making them better. Leadership should seek to keep the organization and the people involved at the height of their game and move them towards some great or grand goal.
Relationship – this asserts that leadership requires connection between two individuals. There must be give and take between the leader and followers.
Leadership requires significant investment. It requires emotional, physical, and (in the case of Christians) spiritual investment. Management is different. In management, a person seeks to get a task done. In leadership, a person seeks to affect change. This is a good way to understand the difference in leadership and management: “Imagine a ladder. A manager is concerned with the function of the ladder. Making sure that the ladder is secure and working properly, that people can get up and down safely. A leader is concerned with making sure that the ladder is up against the right wall.” Put another way, “Managers are concerned with doing things right. Leaders are concerned with doing the right things.”
A person can certainly be both, and both jobs are important. But it is also important not to confuse the two. Putting a person in a position of responsibility does not create leaders, it creates managers. It is going to take more than giving people some responsibility to create leaders. If we want the next generation to learn to lead, we need to begin teaching them to invest their lives in the lives of others. Sometimes that means letting them learn from the bottom, but investing personally in them while they’re there so that when they are given a position, they can be more than managers, but leaders as well. They have to learn that leadership requires time (a process), it requires commitment (relationship), and it requires direction (change).