Whatever else it might appear to be – leadership without vision is definitely not leadership.
The classic way to differentiate between leadership and management is to say that managers do ‘things right’ and that leaders do the ‘right things’.
Alternatively, leaders are said to be ultimately concerned with ‘strategy’, and managers with ‘tactics’ (plan, organise, coordinate)
For my own part I think both of the above create a false dichotomy between two sides of the same coin.
However, if pressed, I would suggest that the real difference between management and leadership is that a manager behaves with no real reference towards the desired end-state of the organisation, i.e. a manager operates with no other concern other than maintaining the machine; whereas the leader is primarily driven by a commitment towards enabling the organisation to achieve its vision of the future.
Everything a ‘leader’ does is therefore connected towards that goal, even the smallest, most seemingly irrelevant task is seen as a stepping stone en route to that destination.
Contrast that to the ‘purposeless’ life of the manager who comes into work every day to simply keep the machine in the road, maintain the systems, and balance the books. Is it any wonder that so many managers are so disenchanted with their working lives?
However, before you automatically assume your membership of the leadership fraternity ask yourself this ‘simple’ question:
Can you describe, in no more than fifteen words, the desired ‘end state’ you are ‘explicitly’ working towards in your own professional life? (and, please, avoid vague ideas that include notions of fulfilling other people’s potential).
If you struggle to do that automatically, then perhaps you are more of a manager than you might like to admit. And, no, before you ask, a balanced budget is not a legitimate answer.