by Laurie Drake
Two weeks ago, I attended a lecture given by Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire during which he discussed the importance of leading the future instead of managing it. As I was sitting in the auditorium, the difference between these two words, which I previously tended to conflate, became more clear. As Dallaire eloquently explained, management involves dealing with the problems in front of you, while leadership implies proactive thinking; choosing your future instead of coping with it. As these words and ideas festered in my brain I began to think about how easy it is to confuse these two ideas and how leadership, if mistakenly taken to mean management, establishes unnecessary boundaries around the possible.
The term ‘manager’ appears so often that I wonder sometimes if we even consider what it means and what it connotes. A quick look into the definition of the word reveals that it refers to a title or position within an organizational structure. Organizational structures, by and large, have limits. They are models intended to mitigate risk and improve efficiency, but all within clear delineated borders. Leadership, on the other hand, is limitless – there are no ceilings or parameters to leadership. Instead, the term suggests something bigger than a system. In essence, people manage problems, but individuals lead change.
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