History has proven time and time again that governments crumble for lack of leadership. Nations fall for lack of leadership. Empires fold for lack of leadership. Kingdoms shatter for lack of leadership. Large multi-national companies, as well as, small businesses, falter for lack of leadership. Sports teams lose for lack of leadership. Even families wander aimlessly for lack of leadership. And lastly, Safety Departments fail for lack of leadership.

So now that we have determined that leadership is important, why draw a distinction between leaders and managers? Which would you rather be classified as, a leader, or a manager? I suspect the former.

Are you a Safety Leader or a Safety Manager?

In my career, I have worked with and for many managers, but only with a few real leaders. I have learned how to lead from these few real leaders and how not to lead from the remaining managers. I have learned from leaders in all aspects of my profession, including business contacts, professional associations, and community, state and national figures. I have also learned how not to lead from individuals in these same groups. These are the individuals I refer to as managers.

There is a clear distinction between leaders and managers. Managers tend to be internally motivated toward their careers. Managers tend to be "me first" oriented. Leaders, on the other hand, tend to be externally motivated toward their own careers. Leaders tend to be "us" or "others" oriented. Managers "get by," but leaders have a vision. Consequently, managers tend toward the status quo, where leaders are champions for change.

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." Vincent T. Lombardi

Manager Defined

Webster defines Manage as, 1 to handle or direct with a degree of skill or address: as a: to make and keep submissive b: to treat with care 2 to alter by manipulation 3 to succeed in accomplishing. Webster defines Manager as, a: one who conducts business or household affairs b: a person whose work or profession is management c(1) a person who directs a team or athlete.

These definitions imply superiority of one person over another whether or not their responsibility and authority was earned. These definitions also imply a philosophy of eking by day to day, without an apparent plan to reach a goal. "Accomplishing" is mentioned, but it also appears that such accomplishment is not by accident and internally driven. I don't know anyone who accomplished anything in the workplace by happenstance.

My definition of Manager is someone who merely keeps the place from blowing up: no vision, no plan, just get me to five o'clock.

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