Why being in charge doesn’t make you a leader
Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke

A few years ago I consulted with the media department of a major, national organization. The woman in charge of the department went to great lengths to let everyone know that she was just that – in charge.  She was demanding, highly opinionated, and never missed an opportunity to remind her team of her title and position. The problem was, she wanted to be in charge, but not take any responsibility.

When her decisions were wrong (which they frequently were) she would blame anyone but herself. When a problem happened with something our team was doing, she immediately went to “Defcon 1” – sending out a highly critical email that she cc’d to everyone upstream in the executive suite. In the vast majority of cases, the “problem” turned out to be a mistake on her part, but by that time, the damage was done.

She was feared by some members of her department, but never respected by anyone.

Never mistake “being in charge” for real leadership. Great leaders are humble, know how to inspire and lead their team, and are prepared to take responsibility – whether it’s their fault or not. Make sure your goal is to be a leader – not just to be in charge.

Real leaders create change. People “in charge” undermine it.


Phil Cooke is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.” Find out more at www.philcooke.com.

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