Development Class: “Do You Want to Be in Charge or Do You Want to Lead?

Often we hear teachings on the difference between managers and leaders. We hear how managers say “Go!” and leaders say, “Let’s Go!”.  This is about as accurate of a description between managers and leaders as you can find. One says, “You do the work while I watch”. The other says, “Let’s do the work together”.

When you talk about leading or being a leader, those who just want to be in charge will think you are just using the words “lead” or “leadership” as a code for “being in charge”. These tend to criticize you for “trying to take over” or believe you have to “wait your turn”. They seem to think leadership opportunity should come with age or time in service.

This is the way it used to be before the value of people’s humanity and potential were looked at assets rather than just looking at their production ability. People will always tell you what they really are if you are able to just listen and observe long enough.

Those who want to be in charge seem to think the word “leadership” means rank, title, and position that you obtain because you’ve been such a good “leader”. They may also believe that you are not as much of a leader if you’re not at the same level they are or above them.

Those who want to lead that leadership is nothing more than influence and that you can start leading today, right from wherever you are.

Those who want to be in charge are busy building their resume. There’s nothing wrong with having a good resume. It is necessary at certain times. There is the resume on paper that you submit to potential employers, and there is the resume of your reputation that people know you to be. It’s when you do what you do only to get another bullet point on your resume that shows where your mind and intentions really are.

Those who want to lead may, and should, also build a resume. But, they are busier building their people for success; not only team success, but they’re building their people to learn how to go out and have their own success as well. They know how to “rejoice with them who rejoice”, as the Hebrew writer Paul wrote. They don’t see their people’s success as potential competition, but they see it as a product of their own success and influence.

Those who want to be in charge want power, control, access, and influence to come from and through them. They keep a firm grip on the controls with no intention of releasing them until they are made to do so; whether by force, by age, by disability, or by death.

Those who want to lead understand the need to start off having full control over things so the team and the mission stay intact.  But, because they have the intention to one day release some of that power, control, access, and influence to their team members, they stay observant of:

1) how much of it to release, 2) when to release it, and 3) to whom they should release it.

Those who want to be in charge seem to believe that things can’t operate without them. Because of this belief, they may even subconsciously be creating an environment that cannot go on without their guidance and, most of all, their permission. The very paradigm that causes them to want to be in charge also may cause them to create an oppressive environment where you get in trouble if you don’t abide by the rules of that environment. And there are plenty of rules by which you must abide.

Those who want to lead look for ways to create an environment where things could operate without them if needed. They understand the need to maintain accountability and oversight, but they intentionally set up an environment where their people feel safe to be creative, make mistakes, and even fail in their attempts at trying new things. Their people know that there will be encouragement to try again and that any corrections are not meant to keep them in submission, but to help them learn and go on to better things.

As we can see, being in charge is not the same as leading. One is about self-preservation while the other is about helping…not forcing…but helping others to grow and thrive!

By being in this class, you are taking steps to develop yourself. The next step is to go out into your respective places of influence, whether at home with your family, at work with your co-workers, or those you’re leading, and learn to develop others.

Let’s not just settle for being in charge, but let’s raise our vision to becoming positively effective in our leading!

Published by Jason Fulmer

Jason Fulmer is a Pastor and Personal Development Teacher. He currently operates two blogs: where he posts Bible-based Pastoral articles, and where he posts Bible-based leadership and development articles. His life's goal is to encourage men and women to go to THEIR next level of living and leading. He believes the best way to accomplish this goal is through Education and Example!

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