Achievers Versus Leaders

It’s been said that the skill set it takes for a person to be an achiever is not the same set of skills that it takes to be a leader.

It’s complicated by the fact that many people are pushed into a leadership role precisely because they are achievers. They catch someone’s eye. They are promoted; and if they keep achieving positive results, eventually they find themselves in leadership positions. Sometimes they are poorly prepared to be leaders, and the only thing they know to do is to try harder.

That’s what has always worked in the past. However, it takes a different set of skills to succeed as a leader. Or does it?

While I agree that it takes some different skills to be a leader than it does to be an achiever, I also think that the differences may be a little overstated. Simply put—if you want to be a leader, you’d better also be an achiever. Not all achievers may be leaders, but show me a good leader, and I’ll show you someone who is also a high achiever.

There are people who daydream about how great it would be to be a leader because they erroneously think that it’s less work and not as taxing as the job they currently have. Many times, their daydreaming contributes to their inability to achieve the kind of results that will make people want to promote them.

These people often misunderstand what it really means to be a leader. Leadership isn’t just about vision and directing people. Leaders execute. Yes, they enable others to get things done, but to simply say, “Leaders get things done through other people,” is to take a very narrow view of what it means to be a leader.

Leaders do. They delegate things, but then they do things. They craft vision, but then they do their part. They execute. Sure there are lazy leaders who don’t do anything… just like there are lazy employees. But good leaders are the busiest people I know. Even if they handle it with apparent ease, believe me, they are busy!

So if you want to be a leader, get busy. Get busy at learning how to achieve great results. Don’t waste your time debating your philosophy of leadership. Execute. Do the job you are in better than it’s ever been done before. Concentrate on the task at hand. Keep doing that, and it won’t be long before your supervisor gives you more assignments and more difficult ones. Establish yourself as a real achiever, and people will start looking at you as a leader.

But doesn’t it take different skills to be a leader than it does to be an achiever? Yes. Yes it does. But until you have learned to be an achiever, you aren’t ready to learn what it takes to be a leader.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Chief Operations Officer, Strategic Government Resources

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