Early in this blog, I wrote at length about why leadership is better than management in any undertaking involving people. Management is for things, leadership for people. I emphasized that while management stresses control, leadership is, at its essence, freeing people to do their very best. Ultimately, leadership is a form of love.
As I pointed out, leadership is far harder than management. It demands undivided attention to the goal of the operation and to the welfare, growth, and fulfillment of those working toward that goal. That means that I, as a leader, must direct all my awareness to the followers and direct none to myself or my ego. When it works, leadership accomplishes miracles.
I learned early in my career that leadership produced results while management prevented mistakes. As a section chief over a half dozen workers, I lifted up my subordinates rather than holding them down. Each promotion I got was grudgingly given—the results I achieved demanded promotion even though my method was contrary to the organization’s culture which stressed keeping employees under control. Even when I reached the executive ranks, I led rather than managed. It always worked.
One experience I had is especially precious to me. One of my subordinates, who I led and encouraged to be the best that he could be, moved up in the organization and became my superior. From that position, he led me. He urged me to attain new levels of excellence and supported me in ways that reminded me of myself. I was a leader being led. I was fulfilled.