The Leadership Path
True leadership is about forging your own path. In today’s competitive world, people are eager to become better leaders. They read all of the latest leadership books and watch the trending videos. Unfortunately, there is nothing new or different coming from experts in the field of leadership. The problem with this is that leading is about pioneering and approaching things from a fresh perspective.
The Difference Between Managing and Leading
People often confuse managing for leading. The goal of managing is to hold people accountable by measuring performance against known objectives that are safe and understood. The difference between managing and leading is that managing continues to facilitate the current way of thinking. Doing something that someone else has already done, even if it is new in your organisation, is not leading, it is managing. True leading is mismatching the status quo and identifying new possibilities beyond the existing probability. It is about having a vision that you have never seen before.
Fear of the Unknown
When you are truly leading, one of the things that can hold back an organisation is the fear of going someplace they have not been before. Going in a new direction is hard to understand and visualise. When leaders are leading, the outcome is not predetermined. There is nothing to base it on because the organisation is breaking new ground. This sense of the unknown often creates feelings of insecurity and discomfort. Turning away from what you already know takes you to the edge of the possibility of yourself. There is a discomfort in not knowing if the path was a good decision. It is this discomfort that signals that you are no longer managing but leading.
Disrupting the Status Quo
Leading is a pioneering process. You cannot report against leading the way you can in managing because the premise of leading is based on designing a new system. When you are doing things in a way that has never been done before, there is nothing in the past to use for comparison. This is a simple paradigm shift of understanding the differences between managing and leading. Managing is a role, while leading is a work in progress to continually disrupt the status quo.
One of the greatest differences between a leader and a manager is that a leader knows and understands when they are leading and when they are managing. It is not possible to be leading all the time because it would be exhausting and overwhelming. There is a time for leading and a time for managing. Leaders understand the difference between these roles.
Do You Know When You Are Leading?
If you want to be an effective leader, think about your actions. Are you aware when you are managing? Are you aware when you are leading? The discomfort caused by the unknown is one of the keys that indicates you are acting as a leader. Leaders actively seek to go beyond the contemplation of what’s possible with the status quo.
Pushing the Boundaries
It is important not to confuse managing for leading. Leaders are innovators that seek to mismatch the status quo. Leadership is about stepping away from the past and doing what has never been done before. Even those claiming to be leaders in the field of leadership need to push the boundaries and leave their comfort zones to continue developing the most effective leaders.