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I do not think that I am alone when I have been directed to be a leader when, in fact, what the demand was for me to be a manager.

What some people don’t seem to understand is that there is a difference. Those of us being managed or led, however, know the difference. Essentially, leaders are those who have set a vision for the organization and then influence others into action. They take time to get to know their people, their career goals, and what drives them. Leaders need others to lead and leaders focus on who and why.

General George Washington inspired and led other Americans against formidable odds. He knew the difference in leadership versus managing and what happens when people are empowered. He wrote: “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”

Managers, on the other hand, supervise and control systems and processes to meet organization goals and objectives. Managers also know when the task needs to be completed, but do not necessarily need subordinates to carry out the task. Managers set the what, where, when, and how. They make sure that the trains run on time.

When it comes to getting tasks completed, leaders have already laid the groundwork by continuously educating their teams on the vision and the role they all play. As a result, even assignments that are initially a hassle are faced knowing that what they are doing is moving the organization forward. Managers don’t spend as much time in educating and mentoring subordinates because their focus is not on the “who”, so when orders are issued, they are usually received grudgingly.

It has been my experience that most of us would rather report to a leader who has made an equal investment in his organization and his people.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. This phrase famously appears in Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and still speaks to me in spite of this global weather craziness.

Changes in healthcare are steadily blowing all of us from a competitive world to one of collaboration and integration. I personally enjoy this environment of sharing and cooperation, but this paradigm change can also pose new challenges for managers and leaders alike.

For your organization’s and your success as a leader in this endeavor make sure that you:

  1. Identify the market and population and the service/product with which you want to collaborate.
  2. Specify what other organizations you are willing to collaborate.
  3. Make sure that you, your boss, and your boss’s boss are all clear on the borders of the collaboration. Discuss, write down, and sign off on the rules of this collaboration prior to any contact with the other organization.
  4. Once contact is made, communicate regularly in writing to your boss and your boss’s boss on your progress of the collaboration and about any issues.

Lets be clear that your organization wants to hold onto its market share it has planned and fought so hard to obtain. Still, there are opportunities here that can be of mutual benefit and to the community.

Successful collaboration is breaking down the walls between competing organizations, advocating a paradigm change and demonstrating how it is done, and handpicking and inspiring a team that has the skills, but will look to you for the resources, the ideas, and the communication and feedback. This is a call for leadership.