Last week we talked about the vital difference between leaders and managers and the necessity of becoming ambidextrous — our ability to seamlessly switch between these two modalities.
Shortly after I posted the dispatch, my friend and long-time Heretic reader, Mark Moore, remarked in an email that management is a business skill. If you want to become a better manager, read books about it, take some courses and think rigorously about it. Leadership, on the other hand, is a human skill. To become a better leader, you need to be determined to be a better human, primarily by hanging out with other good humans.
Mark’s comment definitely hit a nerve with me. There is, of course, much to be learned from formal and semi-formal education. Business is all about knowing; leadership, on the contrary, is about being. You can stoke your curiosity by reading books about leadership — they can’t teach you authentic leadership.
I add to Mark’s comment that leadership takes practice. For some of us, leadership, like playing tennis, comes more naturally — but even for the most naturally gifted and talented leaders, it is something they have worked hard and long on. Like the finely tuned muscle memory of someone who practiced their serve in a game of tennis repeatedly, good leaders have honed their leadership over time.
Heed Mark’s advice and surround yourself with good human beings if you want to be a better leader (and, by extension, a better human).