Christian Leadership: Not Just a Title, But an Action
We have been dealing with various aspects of leadership development in this series of articles. Before we bring the series to a close, we need to clarify a number of issues. One of these is the meaning of the word “leadership”.
Many mistakes made by people who are in positions of authority result from a lack of clarity about what leadership is. It is therefore important for the developing leader to have a clear understanding of the concept.
An appropriate starting point in our discussion is to dissect the ambiguity that is in the word “leader”.
What is a Leader?
For example, we would generally refer to people who have the following titles as leaders: the principal of a school, the parish priest of a church, the bishop of a diocese, the chief executive officer of a company, and the president of a country.
The thinking here is that whoever is in charge is a leader. Consequently, leadership is viewed here as being synonymous with a position. But if we carry out a study of people who hold important positions, we will see that not all of them have what it takes to be a leader.
On the other hand, there are people who do not hold official leadership positions, and yet possess leadership qualities and do the things that true leaders are expected to do.
The famous authority on leadership, John Maxwell, has said: “It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”
This helps us understand that leadership is not a position. Leadership is a function.
Many individuals are appointed to positions because other people or those in authority can see what these individuals are capable of doing.
In this regard, one of the key abilities of those who become true leaders is the ability to influence. It is the ability of these individuals to influence people that makes others follow them voluntarily, without being forced to do so. Someone who forces others to follow him or her is not a true leader.
There is a distinction between leadership and management. One of the reasons why many people who hold positions of authority fail as leaders is that when they are appointed to these positions, all they do is to manage the organisations they are in charge of, without doing the things that true leaders do.
Difference between a leader and a manager
A manager focuses on the maintenance of systems, processes and practices, and on ensuring that the machinery of the organisation runs smoothly and efficiently.
Management has to do with putting in place the necessary structures, procedures and processes that facilitate the smooth and efficient running of the organisation. Management is therefore very important for the success of an organisation. Very often people who are called good leaders are, in fact, just good managers.
How then does a leader differ from a mere manager? A leader is much more than a manager.
First, it is important to understand that you lead people and manage an organisation. A leader influences other people to follow in order to move the organisation in a certain direction.
Consequently, leadership has to do with giving direction. In order to give direction, the leader must develop a vision that he or she wants others to buy into.
Leadership is therefore about inspiring and influencing people or followers with the effect of moving an organisation, a country or any other entity to a higher level or better position.
True leadership leads to a qualitative and, in some cases, quantitative development of the entity concerned.
An officer or politician who leaves the country or organisation where he or she found it is just a manager, not a leader.
An officer or politician who leaves the country or organisation in a worse condition than he or she found it is both a poor leader and a poor manager.
For the success of any country or organisation, you need both good leadership and good management.