There are many books, articles, and thought leaders that argue about the differences between managers and leaders. I've read many of their explanations but the one I remember most goes like this: you manage process but lead people.
Stan Slap, in his book Under the Hood: Fire Up and Fine-Tune Your Employee Culture (which I also discussed in my previous post), agrees with this statement since the employee culture he defines needs what only leaders can provide.
Managers, as per Stan, have to subvert their personal values in service to the company. If they happen to work for a good company, they will get to keep some of their values, but there will still be some tension and disengagement. Leaders, on the other hand, stay true to their values and inspire others to follow their vision and values so that they can do so.
As per Stan, the employee culture is all about self-preservation and to better handle change, they must first know what will remain the same. Since a leader can promise not to change his values or what he stands for, this will give the culture the assurance they need, allowing them to focus their energy more productively.
Stan's explanation of leadership and culture may be different, but it highlights what true leadership is and isn't. True leadership is not making grandiose speeches and proclamations to get the culture behind the latest strategy. Leadership is really standing for something, living by it regardless, and then figuring out how to make things happen without compromising those values. Not easy, but that's why true leaders are rare.
Is there someone in your life who either is a true leader or has that potential? How do they make you feel? What have they taught you?