Leading Rather Than Managing

Yesterday, on, I published an article by Eileen McDargh called “Baton Leadership Lessons From LA Philharmonic Conductor Dudamel.” It is about how the leadership qualities of this young conductor have almost magically transformed the performances of the individual musicians in the orchestra to greater levels of excellence than their already superior performances. At the same time he appears to have united the players under his leadership into the proverbial whole that transcends the excellence of the individual parts.

McDargh makes the point that leadership is the same whether you are leading an orchestra, marketing a product, offering coaching and counseling, or running any other kind of business or endeavor. Click here to read McDargh’s article.

If you’ve done much reading in the subject, you know that many authors have defined leadership. While all may have varying views on what constitutes a leader, there are some characteristics upon which most agree. And most would say, that unlike a manager or a director, a leader inspires and motivates followers.

A leader has a strong, clear vision of what he or she is trying to achieve. He has the ability to communicate that vision in a way that others can see it and believe it. And, he has so strong a passion for what he wishes to achieve that others are caught up in his enthusiasm to the point that they began to share his vision and passion as if it were their own.

And, as you read more and more about leadership, you will come to realize that it is social skill. Then you may also notice that it is actually something more. It is a social skill that often becomes a personality characteristic. Something that begins as a learned skill and comes to be used automatically and intuitively.

Another thing you may notice as you read and research and try to develop your own leadership skills, is that the end goal of your leadership need not be grand. You could lead a small group of interns in a museum to develop extremely refined skills for maintaining rare documents. You could start a local Toastmasters group that develops 20 enthusiastic amateurs and one professional speaker. You could develop a winning softball team for your company.

Or you could do something extraordinary. Like starting a think tank team that produces revolutionary solutions to unemployment.

If you are a manager or small business owner, and you haven’t yet looked very deeply into leadership skills, perhaps it’s time to seriously explore some books, videos and classes on leadership. Managing is important to getting current things done. Leadership is essential to progressing beyond what you’ve already accomplished to all that is possible for you to accomplish.

To what do you want to lead?