…So this evening I was reading a Sci-Fi/Political Thriller called Here Comes Earth by William Lee Gordon. Without spoiling too much of the (highly recommended) read here, I wanted to share a question asked by one of the main characters during one of the book’s many expositions. To elucidate his ideas, he poses the question:
“What is the difference between leadership and manipulation?”
…The character goes on to note that there are many different types of leadership, but that perhaps the most powerful form that leadership can take is when the leader exercises a high degree of influence over a group (as opposed to having to use formal authority to advance his or her agenda).
^What is particularly powerful about this idea is that – re-visiting the original question asked – both effective leadership and manipulation are at core exercises in influence. Going further; manipulation is in fact defined as “the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone.”
…The key differentiator here is that great leadership – at its best – is influencing others to work together in the pursuit of goals and objectives that advance the best interests of the group, while manipulation is influencing others to work together in pursuit of goals and objectives that advance one’s own (self-serving) interests.
As someone that is currently really focused on learning how to inspire, engage, and otherwise influence others, this idea really hits home for me because it reinforces the point that leadership is fundamentally about service and selflessness. And as soon as your actions start becoming all about serving you then you stop being a leader.
…Or maybe I have this wrong? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.