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This might be part one of a multi-part series, but for now, it is simply titled to stand alone.

I am a Project Manager. I have achieved my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI: www.pmi.org). I have also obtained a Certificate in Project Management from Colorado Christian University (www.ccu.edu). What does all of this mean? Nothing really except to say that I have studied a bit on leadership and I think it is a trait that is about as common as common sense. IT AIN’T!

There are some people out there who assume (an ugly word) that because they are in a management position, they are a leader. I beg to differ! In fact, it is possible to manage successfully without an ounce of leadership ability. Management is basically following a script that someone before you or above you created for you to follow. It is a matter of doing things right.

Some examples of managers are:

  • Fast food restaraunts
  • Assembly line supervisor
  • Video stores and retail outlets
  • Functional supervisors

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these positions have occasional leaders occupying their seats, but a manager and a leader are two different things. Sure, “anyone” can go into a “Mac-shack” and work their way up to become a manager. They can show people how to make hamburgers the proper way and how to tell when the fries are done or even to know what that particular irritating beeper is that is going off. These people can be effective managers and actually obtain a pretty good management education.

BUT, can they get their employees to WANT to be nice to you in the drive-thru window?

Can a manager get an employee to be nice to you? Yes, of course, through fear of losing a job, a manager can get an employee to be courteous to you at the window or counter. That was not the question though. The question was can they get an employee to WANT to be nice – meaning inspire them to be nice to you and every other customer? More often than not, the answer is no, just go see for yourself.

Leadership is a totally different animal all together. Leaders inspire greatness. Leaders have an eye for the direction of the company or department. Leaders will do the right things rather than simply doing things right. Leaders can have employees that actually want to follow them to the next project, or even to the next company. Leaders inspire productivity.

There is a solid difference between leadership and management. There is no “thin line” that can be crossed. Leadership is inherant in an individual, I don’t believe it can be taught. Can it be molded, enhanced, educated, groomed, etc? Yes. In fact if a natual leader is not nurtured, the ability can be lost. It is, however, a natural ability.

Question: Do you have to be in a management role in order to lead?

Answer: No, absolutely not. A co-worker once told me that if management isn’t getting things done, you have to lead from the bottom-up. Is this difficult? Absolutely, but can sometimes be crucial in the survivability of a project, department, or even company. If ideas and visions are presented to upper management in a certain way, they can flourish. Be careful, however, and be prepared to have your ideas “stolen” and claimed as someone else’s (like your manager). Get over it and document your ideas better next time. Don’t hold a grudge, though! If you hold a grudge, be prepared to have your employment situation change a bit, and not necessarily for the better.

Well, as I get into this, I can see that I’m going to need a multi-part series with additional resources. 🙂 I hope you’ll come back for more.

What are your thoughts? I love feedback. Do you disagree? If so, why? Do you agree, how so? MORE?

Thanks for tuning in. Until next time,