In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Steven R. Covey said, “Leadership is not management. Leadership has to come first. Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things?”

He continued, writing, “Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish? In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, ‘Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.’ Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Management is what most business owners understand and remain focused upon.

But without leadership, which requires vision, one cannot efficiently manage a process that may well be headed in the wrong direction.

Understanding the difference between the two is important to the ultimate significance desired. It is possible to be very successful at doing a job, but impossible to be a person of significance – one who makes a real difference in the lives of others – without practicing leadership.

I have developed the habit of finding true leaders -– men and women who have made significant positive change in the lives of others — and make every effort to align my activities to mirror their influence to become a person of significance.

Dr. Covey gives us a fun example of this.

“You can quickly grasp the important difference between the two if you envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem solvers. They’re cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out.”

“The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies, and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders. The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, ‘Wrong jungle!’”

“But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? ‘Shut up! We’re making progress.’ As individuals, groups, and businesses, we’re often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don’t even realize we’re in the wrong jungle. And, the rapidly changing environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever been — in every aspect of independent and interdependent life.”

“We are more in need of a vision or designation and a compass (a set of principles or directions) and less in need of a road map. We often don’t know what the terrain ahead will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgment at the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.”

Ask yourself these questions:

How is my company doing?

Is it headed in the direction I had originally planned, or is the ladder against the wrong wall?

If you have any doubt, I recommend ongoing leadership development.

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Randy Martinsen is a brand partner for Nerium International and a mentor of leadership principles for success. He can be reached at 707-206-6443 or randym@budgetworks.net.