These are challenging times to be in charge. But someone has to cut through the fog of uncertainty and fear and keep us taking the next responsible step toward our desired future.

Let’s reserve the title “leader” for those who are willing to use their judgment to act decisively despite having limited information, limited authority and the pressure to please everyone.

We should stop calling people leaders until they deserve the title.

Leadership expert Eric McNulty believes these distinctions are important: Leadership is based on behavior and independent of role or rank.

Just because someone has an important title or fancy office, they are not automatically leading.

“Leader” is a title earned not taken. It means people follow you.

Leadership is more about the why than the what.

Management and leadership are complementary but distinct skills. Managers know the “what” but leaders know the deeper “why” and can communicate that well.

Leader is such an attractive, even seductive title. It is hard to let it go.

But we will not get where we want to go until we stop calling people leaders when they fail to lead. Call them senior officials, managers or executives if you want but let’s make them work harder to earn the title “leader.”

Editor’s note: Michael Mohr is a member of Civil Beat’s board of directors.

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