What often sets leaders apart from managers is the fact that leaders inspire people to believe in themselves, whereas managers simply get people to believe in them. The leader is not just the super-doer of a task, better than the rest, who rises from the pack to start giving orders. Leadership needs to influence people, to empower them, to amplify vision through them. It gets people to do what they have never done and to believe what they have never believed. Yet great leadership happens through us because of something that first happens in us, so that it is not just something done by us.
Managers can keep a vision outworking and maintain pre-chartered progress, but leadership sets the right course, maybe even a different course. It sees what is needed and it responds proactively, not reactively. This sixth sense, the leader’s intuition, is an uncanny ability to know what is needed and to deliver. Since leaders are made and not born, everyone can grow in their leadership ability, so we can learn to practise what seems innate to others, even if we may never shine to the degree that they do or have the same gift mix that they have.
In teams, empowering leadership is accompanied by the setting of boundaries and expectations within which people need to be responsible, creative and effective; where they manage and lead. As long as we remain humble enough to pull back when we are crossing swords with authority, to negotiate through conflict with colleagues and to correct mistakes we might make, our leadership will take us to new levels.
In the end, we only rise to new heights depending on the platform on which we stand, and to build it well, we need to sweep away the rubble of past baggage and hurts, to accept the authority and identity of our leadership and to learn from the input and empowerment we have received from those who lead us. But don’t just manage well, fire up to rise up and change your world; it needs you to be the best leader that you really can be.