Friday, November 17, 2006


Enterprise Architecture: So exactly what is leadership?

Leaders have followers. If someone has followers, they are a leader. Management and leadership are not interchangable words. Magazines such as CIO when they talk about leadership are really talking about management. More importantly they tend to talk about what makes this person a leader (really a manager) rather than why do folks choose to follow which would be a more interesting question. I guess we can summarize this as yet another form of Substituting process for competency...

Consider the Roman Empire as the first so-called example of leadership. It was successful for a limited period of time because it made extensive use of slavery where followers were given commandments to follow the direction. Of course, it later was destroyed by the Goths also known as the free men.

The Roman empire has many emperors. Emperors appointed administrators. Administrators are simply folks in the middle that neither manage nor lead but simply and hopefully over time become competent at administration. The real revolution in Roman times came about because folks decided to not follow those administrators.

A leader is an equal whom you decide to follow on your own free will, because you think he can lead you. Does a corporal in the military on the battlefields in Iraq follow their Sargeant whom participated in previous conflicts because of his rank or because they feel they will be in a better place with him than without him? Now substitute the word Sargeant for the word Captain who just graduated from West Point with no experience but a lot of credentials, does the answer change?

Followers follow leaders because they have a vision that you believe is right. The one who more forward thinking is leading. Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. Leaders manage attention through a compelling vision that brings others to a place they have not been before.

Some folks have in the past commented on the name of my blog: Thought Leadership and have changed the letter P to T for the amusement of many. The problem may be that leaders have visions that are consistent to the point that it becomes predictable, even by people who don't necessarily agree with it.

It would be amusing at some level if folks in the blogosphere started sharing stories on their boss and whether he/she is a leader or a manager. For me, I hope to in our next staff meeting at work, encourage my own boss to tell his own story in this regard in the blogosphere...

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