If there ever were a great leader in the history of business and management, it would be William Edwards Deming. Deming was a visionary whose concepts of effective business leadership were decades ahead of his time. It was Deming who greatly improved industrial production in the United States during World War Two and later, ironically, in Japan where his genius was given the widespread recognition it deserved.
Deming coined the term “Profound Knowledge Management” which referred to the notion that successful management is based on individuals and to be successful, individuals must always be open to change and never act in a manner that would be deemed inflexible.
From this, a manager can act in a leadership role similar to Deming’s leadership module.
There is, however, a significant difference between leadership and its cousins supervision and management. Supervision generally refers to the oversight of employees. Management generally refers to the oversight of company and business policy.
Leadership refers to the notion that the individuals that comprise the personnel of a given company have faith and confidence in the person who is making the supervisory and managerial directives.
Personnel will look up to a manager who exemplifies leadership qualities. Quality leadership will always inspire and never threaten or sanction as is the case in many supervisory or managerial styles.
Are true leaders rare? Yes. The reason for this is that leadership involves a great deal of innovation (as was the case with Deming) whereas supervision/management simply requires carrying out directives. Not everyone can lead, but those who can are never forgotten.