Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Managing to lead

Today I attended an industry luncheon for young professionals focusing on leadership skills and strategies for expediting career ascension. After a brief presentation highlighting some strategic tactics and inspirational quotes, each table discussed various leadership topics. The leading topic- leadership vs. management. Prior to this luncheon, I hadn't put much thought into the difference and generally perceived the two as interchangeable. I was first at bat to share my thoughts with the table, and fortunately, I was able to quickly internalize the definitions of the two words and conclusively formalize my thoughts.

A leader is someone who inspires and does not require an authority position. A leader shows and demonstrates ways to be successful.

A manager dictates and organizes the strategies for success.

Managers and leaders do not have to be mutually exclusive, but are frequently influenced be one another.

Though this was something I'd never thought about before and it made me reflect on my past leadership positions- was I actually a leader or had I simply been a manager?

In group projects I'd always take charge and develop deadlines and delegated the distribution of responsibilities and work. In the summer during college, I worked as the director of junior tennis. In my position, I told my teaching staff what skills to work on with their students, divided the players per my judgement and determined court assignments. Overall, both of these examples led me to believe that perhaps I'd failed to be a leader, but rather only served as a manager. However, my assumption and execution of authority was not without demonstrating strong work ethic, picking up the slack for outstanding work or hours, taking full responsibility and helping when needed- qualities of leadership. It's not my intention to toot my own horn, but rather to remind myself that although I currently feed at the bottom of the fish pond with my company, I can still be a leader.

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