How Do You Define Leadership?

Being responsible for people is one of the most difficult and most rewarding things we could ever do. Being responsible for numbers is not. Leaders are responsible for people, managers are responsible for numbers.

Did you know that there was a difference between management and leadership? Chances are you did, but do you know what that difference is? If you do, what would you prefer to experience, management or leadership?

1. Management and Leadership

The difference between management and leadership is as follows:

Managers manage processes and look after the numbers. Leaders lead people, take responsibility for people’s lives, and how they feel at work.

In my experience, a lot of boss’s or a managers usually treated us as a number and not a human being. It was not a nice feeling. If you have experienced this too, then you will know that same feeling I had. Being made to feel this way had an impact on my performance in some cases. How about you?

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When it comes to the current team you are leading, how do they feel when working with you? Are they treated as numbers or as human beings? How are they performing when working within your team and with you? Hopefully they are performing well, and you are treating them as human beings.

The reason I am asking you these questions is because I want you to be honest with yourself, and look within. To be a really a good or a great leader is very hard work, and takes time. However, it also takes honesty. We need to be honest with ourselves.

It is very easy to look at our own boss or leader and give our opinions. But, it is not easy to look within ourselves and give our opinions. It takes a lot of hard work.

The more hard work you do at looking within, and accepting who you really are. Then this will start to show on the outside, and your team will begin to feel that.

2. Your Leadership

At the moment you are either working hard on your leadership. Or, I hope you are planning to so that you can become a highly effective leader. If you are planning on just being a manager, then you are already treating your people as numbers and not human beings, or you are planning to.

Managers and supervisors who treat their people as numbers do not want to become highly effective leaders, so this article is not for them.

However, managers and supervisors who already treat their people as human beings and want to become highly effective leaders, then this article is definitely for them. Is this you?

If you decide to become a highly effective leader then I will make a promise right now to help you achieve this.

If you are a manager, to most people that just means you hold a position of power or authority. With this article I want you to go much further than that. I don’t want you to stop at being a manager, I want you to strive to become a highly effective leader.

It is not very difficult to hold a position of power as a manager and do a pretty good job. But, it is much more difficult to be a highly effective leader as a manager, and that is what I want for you.

Of course, as a manager you have to manage your organisation’s processes and events, but you must lead the people. If you were the owner of the company or the CEO, then your role would be to just lead the people.

The management of processes and events you would delegate to the levels below. As you are the manager of your team you have to do both, and this article and my website will show you how to do that very effectively.

3. The Right Decisions

If you make the decision to manage the people the same way as managing the processes and events, then you are taking the easy way out. You are using your position of authority in the wrong way, and almost abusing your power.

It is a lot more difficult to lead people rather than manage them, and will require a lot of effort and hard work. If you do take the easy road of managing rather than leading, then it will only be a matter of time for your team members to choose a different place to work.

Taking the decision to manage the people will have consequences. So, you must ensure that you know what those consequences are before you act on your decision.

Throughout my entire career, I worked mostly with engineering managers who tried to manage us as if we were a process or a number and not a human being.

They didn’t see me or the team I worked “with” as equals. They saw us as numbers who worked “for” them, and as I said previously, it was not a nice feeling.

When you work with a highly effective leader, you do exactly that, “work with them”. A leader sees the whole team as equals, and values everybody within the team. Everybody knows where they stand with a leader.

However, a manager does not see the team as equals, and does not value everybody the same. So they are likely not to listen to everybody within the team, and therefore nobody knows where they stand.

4. Is Your Boss a Leader?

How about your boss, is he/she a leader or a manager? How do you feel to work “with” or “for” them?

While you’re reading on, have a think of what type of manager you are with your team. Do they work “with” a leader or do they work “for” a manager? How do they feel to be part of your team?

Whatever your team feels when they work as part of your team, they will feel it every day. So, you must ensure that it is a good feeling they have.

If you don’t like working for the boss you have at this very minute, and you feel bad when you are around them. Then you must definitely ensure that your team don’t feel the same way about you.

Usually, the feeling you have when you are working “for” a manager is a bad feeling, and you are thinking of ways to get out of the team. When you are working “with” a leader, the feeling you have is a good feeling, and you are proud to be part of the team.

It is all to do with how you feel around them. Again, make sure your team feels good and are proud to be part of your team.

By now, you will have made the decision of being a highly effective leader or a manager. I am really hoping that you have decided to work hard and become a highly effective leader. If you have then what I am going to share with you in this article will make you that highly effective leader.

This article will also help you to help others to follow you, and become highly effective leaders too.

What I am going to share with you is all that I have learned from my 20 year career and leading engineering teams in 5 different companies throughout the United Kingdom. Some teams required a lot more work than others.

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Some teams needed to embrace change, make improvements, adapt to new processes, and to new people. I’ve also worked as an engineering consultant, and I led teams who were not my direct reports.

For me to lead these teams successfully, I had to build trust with the teams right away. Trust is a two-way street, so it had to come from everyone within the team. Otherwise it wouldn’t have worked.

I will also share what I have learned from the many leadership seminars and conferences I have attended, books I’ve read, and videos I have watched. Everything I share I have practiced throughout my life both personally and professionally.

Hopefully the prospect of becoming a highly effective leader gives you a feeling of excitement. I hope that you are willing to step onto, and believe that you can climb the leadership ladder.

A highly effective leader can make decisions that others don’t have the courage to.

A highly effective leader has the confidence to stand by their decisions.

A highly effective leader takes into consideration the needs of others.

A highly effective leader has the compassion to take on board the needs of others.

They see being a leader as a calling, not a position.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

12 thoughts on “How Do You Define Leadership?

  1. This is an excellent article on the difference between a manager and a leader. You explained nicely step by step how we can become a good leader and be responsible for our people, unlike a manager. I am sure that this article will be useful to many. I wish you success and good health.

    1. Hi Zvezdan,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I hope this article will be useful for many. Please share with your friends or family who may be in leadership/management positions at work and could do with some helpe.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    Very interesting article! I currently am retired so I am neither a leader nor a manager. When I was working, I was lucky enough to work for a great boss who was really a leader for 20 years. Unfortunately, when he retired, I ended up with a useless guy that had no idea what most of us even did. The first 2 years with that guy were OK because he left us alone. However, during the second 2 years he was terrible, he lied about things, so I ended up retiring earlier than I would have. You can definitely tell the difference!

    Barbara

    1. Hi Barbara,

      It’s great that you share your experiences from when you were in a full time job. I hope your retirement is going very well for you.

      I hope people can learn from your experiences of working for a great boss, and then a rubbish boss. The difference in our performance when we work for a great boss as opposed to a rubbish boss is amazing. A lot of people will be able to relate to you.

      Thanks again.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. The way you defined leadership is the perfect article for everyone. You are a master at taking control of defining leadership.

    You break it down in sections that are easy to understand and rein act the way you tell us to. Repeat and duplicate the actions you tell us to try out.

    Thanks for this very informative article.

    Cheers,
    MnD

    1. Hi MnD,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my post, means a lot.

      I appreciate your very kind words also, and I hope you can take action on what you learn. Be sure to share what you learn with your people too.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I enjoyed reading the differences between managers and leaders and I wholeheartedly agree with your definitions. A good leader is one who really cares for their people and helps them to succeed. Although I do think if the two were combined they could accomplish great things. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if managers also became effective leaders? I hope people read this post and realize they can become better managers by becoming effective leaders. It’s important to work with the people you supervise and value their judgements. Through brainstorming with people you can discover many solutions to difficult problems. They will be more apt to comply to things if they are part of the solution. People need to feel valued and I think your post explains that very well. Thanks for this comprehensive article.

    Nina

    1. Hi Nina,

      I appreciate your very kind words.

      I hope people can learn from your very detailed comment also, as much as they learn from me.

      It is my pleasure to share this article.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. I always love coming back to your website, Tom. This is another great blog post. Are you more of a manager or a leader? I like how you make a distinction between those two. I tend to think, I am more of a leader. You see, I am a soccer coach and there are guys in my club, who treat the players as if they were numbers. I try to do it differently and I think it is visible. Some people around the club already gave me feedback in that sense. If you ask me, I think it is definitely a better experience working with a leader than working with “just a manager”. Great post, as always!

    1. Hey Julius,

      Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it.

      I know you are more of a leader too as I see on your website and the other work you do in soccer.

      I am a huge soccer fan, or footbally fan as we say in the UK. Liverpool is my team.

      I would love to know who your favourite team is.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. It is true that having a good boss who is a leader makes you feel good and thus work hard.
    I left my job because my job made for feel super uncomfortable to the point that I could not bear it anymore.
    However, all this made me a person who was good and made be learner to be a better leader in general.

    1. Hi Thabo,

      Completely agree, and thank you for your comment.

      One of the main roles of a leader is how they make their people feel. That is what culture is, it is a feeling you have when you are around your boss and your team.

      You did the right thing in leaving a job that made you uncomfortable, that is no way to live. I have done the same in the past.

      Well done for learning from that experience and putting that learning into practice. It’s great that you can share it here and hopefully help more people.

      All the best,

      Tom

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