Leading something, anything, is not easy. There are so many decisions to make, thoughts to guide, and directions to head. Over the last 15 years I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be a leader, ways to lead that are effective for me and those that aren’t. I’ve also learned the difference between what it means to be a leader versus a manager.
A manager, well, manages. They maintain what’s there. They iron any creases in the “fabric” of the ministry, make sure people are doing what they are supposed to do, but don’t necessarily see areas that need changing. They make decisions, but not necessarily ones that influence the long-term direction.
A leader is different. Leaders don’t like to maintain, they’re not afraid of change and even crave it. They put out fires and even cause some. They make decisions that guide people toward and through change…even when it hurts or people don’t understand. They don’t settle for what’s good, but constantly seek what’s best. And when they find something better, they’re not afraid of leaving “good” to head in that direction.
I also have learned one more little, but important, distinction between leaders and managers. They handle immediate pressures and needs differently. When we face immediate pressures or needs we have to make a decision. Manager’s revert back to past experience to see what they’ve done to relieve those pressures or meet those needs before. They then implement that same methodology…but often hang onto hope for a different result. And that never works.
On the other hand when leaders face immediate pressure or needs they don’t negate their experience, but they also don’t automatically revert back to what they’ve seen done or implemented themselves. They think bigger and in fact sometimes intentionally don’t look backwards. They ask what’s gained and what’s lost in this decision? Leaders protect the bigger vision by making sure they don’t do something that undermines what’s valued. And if necessary they try something they’ve never heard of…and are excited about it.
I think that this is a well written article and I identify with being a leader. I am not satisfied with things being “good” enough.