Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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Management vs. Leadership

In one of the keynote talks I give to college students and at leadership conferences, I distinguish between the idea of leading and managing. Namely, I state that:

Managers maintain the status quo; leaders destroy it.

No matter the setting - a fraternity, a corporate boardroom, a household - leaders are those who don't merely keep things the same, but change them. I don't think leadership is ever based upon or beholden to a title. In fact, leaders are those who act and don't wait for the "permission" conferred upon them by an election or an appointment. Some of the leaders I admire most in my own life weren't leaders because of a job title or role. Rather, they were leaders because they did what was necessary to impact others.

Kneale Mann says it best in a recent post:

An org chart and a business card does not constitute leadership....You will have challenges. It's easy to run a ship on calm water. What you do during these situations is where you will show your leadership.....If you need to remind them of your job title, you may have already lost the room.

There will surely be times when management is needed and it's imperative that you understand your strengths. After all, the architect and the general contractor have two very different roles, but each one is vital. Understanding whether you like to create or oversee, manage or lead, design or dig is critical to finding the right fit for yourself in any organization.

But the bottom line is that if you want to lead, don't manage your way there. Get up and go.