To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone.
~Harry Truman

This leadership quote from Harry Truman illustrates the great need for a leadership purpose behind every great leader. How many of the current crop of untalented managers who think they are in a leadership role simply because they have some authority would be willing to do their jobs if no one reported to them?  Not many!

Without a clear leadership purpose, no one is going to continue without followers.  This is an excellent test to tell if someone is operating as a leader or simply as a boss.  If they would be unwilling to do the work themselves, then the work isn’t as important as being in charge.  If the work is truly important then they will be willing to strive toward the goal on their own if need be.

If you are in a leadership position this is an excellent way to make sure that you are moving your team toward goals that are important.  Before asking someone to do a project, stop and ask yourself if you would do the work yourself even if there was no one to delegate to.  If not, then it might be something that doesn’t really need done.

We’ve all suffered through poor leaders who ask us to do work that doesn’t really need to be done.  They assign work simply because we are available–not because the work is important and not because the work helps advance the organizational goals.  If you want to be successful however, the work you assign to others must be important.  If you give people jobs and tasks that don’t really need to be done, you aren’t leading them–you are simply managing their time.

While there may be a place for managers in this world, they aren’t going to make a positive change in their environment and won’t be remembered for their contribution. When leadership is working correctly it lowers the need for management because people with a purpose working toward a goal require less management than people doing meaningless work simply to retain the paycheck that they need to survive.