I’ve had a number of managers throughout my career. They told me what my hours were, when I could take my holidays, and what my most pressing tasks were. Sometimes, I learned new skills from them, such as how to evaluate an MMPI profile to determine if a police candidate would be suitable for hire or how to put together a report using the company’s powerpoint template.
However, I didn’t often look to my boss as a leader. I didn’t always listen with rapture about their ethical viewpoint on privacy in research or how they interpret the fine line between statistical precision and statistics in real life. You see, though their official job title may have been “Manager” or “Director” or “Research Leader,” that didn’t automatically make them a leader.
To me, “Leader” is a word that is given by people who don’t necessarily have power to describe someone who gives them power. It is a word to be treasured and sought. A word that describes very few people though it should describe very many people. A leader is someone who is looked up to by their colleagues, whether those colleagues are further up or further down the totem poll. A leader makes other people want to do a better job and be a better person.
We don’t need more managers at work. We need more leaders.