The belief that natural leaders are born is misplaced; leadership is acquired. Individual leadership is demonstrated when a person possessing requisite knowledge, skills, and beliefs acts to solve a problem, improve a situation, or achieve a goal in concert with others.
Leadership is not to be confused with management, though a person may be required to fulfill both roles. The difference between leadership and management is often contextual, and depends on one’s position. Boundaries in a person’s role, authority and tasks (B/ART) may determine when management or leadership skills are necessary or appropriate. In Five Levels of Leadership John Maxwell (2011) warns that leadership is not to be confused with authority associated with one’s position.
Heifetz and Linsky (2002) distinguish the two types of challenges faced by leaders: Technical challenges are those where solutions already exist and leaders apply those solutions accordingly. Adaptive challenges, also known as “wicked problems,” have no known solution and are best addressed by leaders who are closest to the actual problem and work together. Regardless of whether early education leaders are addressing technical or adaptive challenges, it is essential they possess relevant knowledge, skills, and beliefs to support their actions.
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