Florin Lungu - What leadership is NOT

As you know, my leadership article series is known as Leadership for the Now.

As the title implies, my goal in writing is to give leaders like you some things to consider about the nature of leadership.

I love leadership. Leadership capacity is my whole life’s focus. So, I have written many articles on this topic, and I could (and will!) write many more discussing what leadership is.

But today, my purpose is to tell you what leadership is by telling you what it is not!

We describe many things in view of what they are not. There is no way to describe darkness without mentioning the absence of light, and we cannot define cold without bringing up a lack of heat.

It stands to reason that we can better understand leadership through this same lens. 

There are many things that leadership is not. But most often, leadership becomes confused with these 5 things:

1. Entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors have the remarkable ability to see something that does not yet exist and make it real. This visionary superpower is something that they have in common with leaders.

But someone can fill a gap in the market and still not know how to lead.

2. Knowledge.

No doubt you have heard the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” This little maxim makes it easy to see why leadership and knowledge seem to go hand-in-hand.

But there is no direct correlation between IQ and EQ – so even the brightest scholar can have a hard time leading.

3. Pioneering.

Leaders do look to the future, explore options, and do the good things that others will not.

However, leaders are not meant to be so far out in front of their people that they cannot keep up. If you are walking with your team, and they are not following, you are not leading – you are “taking a long and lonely walk.”

4. A position.

Being appointed the head of a team does not make someone a leader.

It can make someone feel like a leader. It may validate some leadership qualities in that person. But really, a title is the maybe-leader’s maker or breaker.

Either they steel themselves and rise to the task, or they fall short and cannot truly call themselves a leader.

5. Management.

Management is the most direct contrast to leadership, but also the most common thing we get it confused with.

We may use the word “management” like it is a synonym for “leadership” – but see, if they were the same thing, there would only be one word to call them both :)

Management is giving direction; leadership is inspiring involvement. While managers control their people, leaders lean in, motivate, and engage. Leaders know it is futile to hire the most qualified candidate only to direct their every move.

Leaders do not leverage a position; they know that can only get you so far. Instead, they help people see themselves in the grander vision, and they bring their all to the table…

Because leadership IS influence – nothing more, nothing less (Dr. John Maxwell).

That’s all for now.

Until next time,


P.S. If you want to learn more about this principle from Dr. John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, join me on 31 January for a special edition of Leading on Mondays.

At 12 PM CET, I will be diving deep into an analysis of the Law of Influence and how it impacts your day-to-day leadership. Oh – and I will be featuring a special teaching by Dr. Maxwell himself!

Click here to join the broadcast when it goes live.