In his book Master Leaders, George Barna has compiled a great collection of leadership principles from thirty noted leaders. One area I resonated with was the differentiation between leadership and governance. The way you approach your leadership will greatly determine the success and growth of the thing you lead. Concerning this concept, Master Leaders notes:
“You see a leader is the person who pursues noble goals with such intensity that others are drawn to those goals. Leadership is taking people where they are not already going. It is about redefining the possible…I have come to understand that leadership is different from governance. Governance is the process whereby minimums are established. In government, the law is passed, and it sets the minimum threshold for activity. If you don’t exceed that threshold, you are the subject of impositions and mandates. Leadership is different from governance because it doesn’t establish the lowest and least that is acceptable, but it inspires people to their highest and best. Whereas governance operates on the basis of mandates, imposition, punishment, and things like that, leadership operates on the basis of models. The outcome of governance is the establishment of a floor. The outcome of leadership is people operating at their highest and best.
This really comes down to a difference between managing and inspiring. The manager will always manage lower level outcomes whereas the one who inspires can see the impossible become reality.
Management focuses on rules, regulations and status quo, and receives exactly that. The one who inspires focuses on potentiality and shattering the status quo.
The difference can also be seen in the kinds of questions these two leaders ask: The manager asks, “How do “I” maintain control and get a task accomplished with the least amount of trouble?” The visionary leader asks, “What have “we” never tried before?”
Managers tend to focus on self, Visionaries/inspirers focus on the team. Both are needed, but an organization with a manager in the lead role will limit it’s potential.
Great leadership is about connecting people to each other and a preferred future that is worthy of pursuit.