Leaders vs Managers – Braveheart Style

This will be a three-part series looking at leadership lessons from Braveheart. I love this line from Braveheart where William Wallace is confronting the nobles, who are more concerned with their position and image than the people of their lands:

“There’s a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.”

In today’s world, we would change country to company or department, where people have titles such as manager or director, or even leader, but have no concept of what those titles mean. Decisions are made that impact the lives of others, and there is seemingly little remorse and there is no accountability. “Sorry guys, we screwed up. We’re going to have to let you go.”

The difference between Wallace and the nobles was that they had been given their position. They were maybe born into their position, or had in some way found themselves able to use connections and show loyalty to someone in greater power and offered “My people will fight and die for you if I can have an estate in the country.” It seems that we should be hundreds of years removed from the feudal system of Medieval Europe, but we’re not. We have simply repackaged it.

The workforce is full of people who are simply after a little piece of land to call their own, but due to careless decision making on the part of company nobles, they find themselves further from their dreams. This isn’t new to humanity, and it isn’t going to change. Corporations will continue to put nobles in positions because a Wallace will upset the status quo.

Here are the three takeaways for today:

1 – Having a title does not make someone a leader. It could very well mean they have been given it as a reward for being a follower.

2 – Leaders emerge. There is no stopping them and they have a vision that inspires. Managers are placed and they destroy energy and motivation.

3 – Leaders care about their people. They weigh the consequences of their actions, it is personal when others get hurt.

Leaders will inspire people to achieve goals they didn’t think were possible and make a vision come alive. If you work with a leader, encourage them and let them know they are appreciated.

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