Leadership. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. Everyone wants to be a leader, but what does that mean? Do you need a title, or an official role to lead? Or can you learn to cultivate your leadership right where you are, whatever season of life?

We sat down with VOUS Church Next Steps Director Manouchka Charles for answers to these questions and more on the subject of leadership.

What does it mean to be a leader?

A leader is someone who takes initiative and cares about people. Anybody can tell people to do things, but do you really care about the people that are doing whatever it is you’re asking them to do?

Leadership is really about having a heart for people and having a heart for making sure you’re getting things done. It’s about making sure that we’re getting things done through people and utilizing people to empower them to be able to do whatever God’s called them to do.

It’s really about helping people find their purpose, not just about having people do things. When people find their purpose, it’s where they find their fulfillment. For me, I think leadership is helping people find out where they need to be in life.

leadership

What’s the difference between a boss and a leader?

A leader is someone who is not trying to take control, but trying to give it away. As a leader, I think, “How can I empower people? How can I give away some of the things I do to help someone else figure out what they’re going to do?”

One phrase that I love and say all the time is, “The greatest thing that you may do is not something you do but someone you empower.”

The difference between a boss and a leader is that a leader really wants to empower people to find their purpose and a boss may just want to get things done.

How can someone be a leader without a title?

Wherever you are, you can be a leader. You don’t have to wait for a title to lead. You start leading before you have the title – that’s how leaders emerge. They rise up amongst people.

Leaders are made of faithful people who have made a decision to say, “It doesn’t matter what the title is. It doesn’t matter what I do. I made a decision to do everything with excellence, whether or not I get recognition or whether people notice me.”

There are so many people without a title who are leaders just because they take the initiative to say, “Whatever my sphere of influence, whether if it’s two or three people I will lead, I will step up. I will do the thing that no one wants to do.”

What leaders have influenced you and what have you learned from them?

We have two of the greatest leaders in Pastor Rich and DC. When I first moved to Miami, I had the opportunity to intern with Pastor DC and I got a glimpse of what being a leader is and what that looks like.

The way she leads with a genuine heart and a spirit to serve people taught me the importance of who I am and that the way that I carry myself and my character matter. The way that I speak to people matters. The way that I live my life matters. I’ve been able to learn that from Pastor DC because she does a great job of embodying that on and off the platform.

I really want to have a heart that genuinely cares for the people that I have the opportunity to lead. I want to always look at it as a miracle and an opportunity.

I want to make sure that, for anybody who’s stepping into my life, I’m aware of what it was like when I stepped in a new space with a new leader, and how they treated me, and how they brought me in — being inclusive, being loving, just teaching.

People taught me to stay teachable, available, and flexible. All of these things I’ve been able to learn from so many different people that have helped me on my journey. I’m still on my journey.

I’m striving to be better every day. I think that’s an important principle. You’ll never hit a ceiling on learning. You’ll never reach a pinnacle where you can say, “I’m now the greatest leader. I don’t have to do anything else.”

I look at the lives of different people I’m around, and they don’t stop. They accomplish great things, but they haven’t stopped there. They still continue to perfect their gifts and continue to work on whatever it is they need to work on.

They continue to learn. They continue to have a heart to learn from other people no matter what it is. I’m just so grateful for the people that I’ve been able to learn from in my life.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to grow as a leader?

Stay teachable. Staying teachable is the biggest thing. Even if someone just has a suggestion, be open to learning. You don’t know it all. We’ll never know it all.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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