Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. – Professor Warren G. Bennis
So, last week was a crazy week! The events of last week caused me to start thinking about my legacy. While I am certainly not ready to spend eternity in a box 6′ under ground, I have been thinking “What will I be remembered for?” For me, it was ironic that the week started with Martin Luther King Day. Irony hit me in the face with a 2X4 when I found the quote above by Professor Bennis while I was looking for a quote about leadership.
This isn’t the first time I have thought about my legacy (click here), and it probably won’t be the last.
The words leader and manager are used almost as synonyms by most people. If you look around in your life, you’ll see both managers and leaders. What’s the difference between a manager from a leader? Is it education, genetics, or experience? Can it be taught or can it be learned? Why are some people essentially modern day pied pipers, while others can’t seem to get their shadow to follow them? My opinion is leadership starts with INTENT.
As a leader, is my intent to further my career or to do the right thing for the company? Is my intent to keep my job or do my job?
Doesn’t it seem obvious? Think of the great leaders of history. Dr. King, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela to name a few. Their actions were guided by their intent to right a wrong, regardless of the cost to them personally. King and Lincoln were ultimately assassinated for their intentions. Gandhi and Mandela spent years in jail because of their intentions. In the business world, most people are not typically faced with death or imprisonment as a result of our intentions. Yet our intentions play an integral part to whether we are a leader or a manager. The intent of the top leaders of companies can drive success or failure. We follow leaders who have genuine intent that we agree with.
What do I mean by genuine intent? Genuine intent is the intent that is communicated by one’s actions, not by what is communicated. Think back to a time in your life, where you interacted with a leader. What was their intent? Who was got the most benefit? The leader or those who followed? Did you feel like the leader was actually somehow serving you? In my experience, leaders are not even aware they are leaders or even why people follow their lead.
Think about why you follow a leader. They are all around us. It could be a minister, manager, peer, or teacher to name a few. What is their intent? What is your intent?
Thanks for coming in today.