Seniority in management comes with status, power and influence. Managers use that power, influence to ensure that their team gets the job done in the most efficient way. Leaders, including those without hierarchical positions of power, tackle a different job. Leaders make work more effective for their teams, their stakeholders and the organisation. They know better ways of working will produce better more purposeful outcomes.
Management is a position. Leadership is an action. That action is influencing others to create change to better the performance of the group. The purpose of leadership is not the exercise of power. The purpose of leadership is improving the potential of a group. That only comes when a leader is able to help a group to reflect on purpose, how they work and the opportunities to work more effectively to deliver their personal and group purposes.
Both Leaders and Managers endorse what they accept. They are influential role models in the culture of the organisation. What they treat as acceptable shapes the expectations of acceptable behaviours in the organisation. Those expectations are what we mean by culture. If role models are not highlighting gaps, making change and making things better, then they are endorsing the status quo with all its challenges and flaws. These signals of the need for change or endorsement of the status quo happen every day. Actions are far more powerful examples than speeches. A day without the discussion and action on the need for change to better ways of working makes the next day’s effort harder.
If you want to be a leader, start the work to make work more effective. Anyone can help.