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The Difference Between a Leader and Leadership

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The very term “leadership” has such wide implications and is in use on so many departments in life that the actual meaning of the term has gone behind the curtain. From companies to groups, from forums to politics, we see a new leader emerging every day and an old one vanishing every night. What exactly is a leader and what qualities he must possess? What is the difference between leader and leadership is a question yet to be answered.

What is leadership?

The word leadership has more than one meaning but has remained a controversial term over the years because there are varying styles to lead and not one can be singled out as a standard. For example a politician is a leader and attempts to lead the masses or a specific group the way he intends to. In the longer run, he intends to control this group or masses for his personal benefit.

A corporate manager has just one aim in front of him i.e. to lead his team for the benefit of his company. His aim is to extract the best potential of his team by facilitating them, providing them a healthy work environment, a good salary package along with other incentives as to accumulate the best out of them all around the year.  In this essence, a leader is someone who is in charge of the proceedings either willingly or unwillingly. (Covey, 2006)

This means that he can be nominated by someone else for example corporate managers to be a leader or he can lay down his role of being a leader by his own will such as a politician who becomes a leader by his will without anyone or anything influencing his intentions or ideas. Both cases are different but both are leaders in their own rights, they have a followers who listen to them whole heartedly. Their roles are totally different to one another but they have a responsibility to lead a group or a part of people to the right path i.e. to collect them on one platform and get the best out of them.

Traits of a leader

The topic has been discussed and worked out extensively since the importance of a leader in modern world has seen a rapid emphasis in various fields. Different regions of the world have different traits among their leaders but most traits are common. In Europe and America, a leader is an individual who has capabilities and skills to collect a specific group and gather their thoughts to accomplish a common objective.

In China and Japan, their leaders exercise a more collective methodology and get the whole organization to work for a common objective. The primary intention is the same i.e. to accomplish a specific task by mobilizing and motivating people, to gain their confidence and collective strength for a purpose.


Virtues of a leader can be various where a leader can work positively or negatively. We have seen so many leaders around the world who have influenced an entire population with their ideas, their sentiments, and their approach to conquer what was thought as unconquerable. This is where a leader is identified from followers. A follower listens and understands but does not move ahead to get what he desires whereas a leader is the one who gets them moving and make them follow his lead. This is not a divine trait but a skill, a stroke of brilliance. Stalin was a leader and so was Hitler who inspired masses and the rest was done by people who followed their lead, trusted what they had to say regardless of right or wrong. On the positive side, Jinnah was a leader and so was Gandhi but Jinnah was a proactive leader who led his people with positivity, however, Gandhi was more passive.

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