leadership (or the lack thereof)…

I have been having discussions with folk about what makes a leader lately. It has been interesting because so many people talk about wanting to see leadership, see leaders stand up and be counted, etc. but very few are able to identify what it is that they are looking for. Its that old thing, if you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it?
So, who are leaders? How do we know when we see one? Is it charisma? Is it strong opinions? Is it being louder than others? I would suggest that often when people see these behaviours, they interpret it to mean leadership. However, they are then bitterly disappointed.
Leaders are people who not only stand up to be counted when others are looking to them, but who stand up with integrity and authenticity all the time. Leaders are prepared to do the right thing all the time because it is right, not because it is popular.
The difference between being a manager and a leader is being able to confront things with clarity, assertiveness and grace when necessary. Managers try to manage around the confrontation, to avoid it. Leaders take a deep breath, step up and confront.
Of course there are whole discussions about styles of leadership. But, the essence of leadership is that it is not management. Sometimes the two look the same, but when we see a difficult situation arise, then we also see leadership arise. It is the challenge that sorts out the leaders from the managers.
For those of us who claim to be leaders, let us examine ourselves and ensure that we are doing what needs to be done with grace, integrity and authenticity.

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