The Fine Line Between #Leading and Manipulating

It’s a fine line, really…

The difference between leading someone and manipulating someone.

Leading = Influencing.

Manipulating = Vile Persuasion.

Ultimately, the line between leading and manipulating is less about the method chosen for performing the action, and more about the heart of the person that’s performing it.

Leading says, “I believe in you.”
Manipulating says, “I believe I can use you.”

Leading says, “Let’s do this together.”
Manipulating says, “Do this for me.”

Leading says, “I want you to want it.”
Manipulating says, “I want to convince you to get it for only my good.”

Be careful….

Are you leading or manipulating?

What’s the difference in your mind?


  1. Dale Carnegie was criticized (perhaps unjustly) for teaching people how to manipulate others.
    Take the first five words out of the title of his famous book, and you have, “Influence People.”

    One of several definitions of the word, “influence” found in the Merriam-Webster online edition is: “corrupt interference with authority for personal gain.”

    I’m with you. I believe that the motivation(s) of the influencER is the key.

    The influencEE should beware!

    Nice topic for discussion.

  2. Great thoughts. I definitely see a difference between leading and manipulating. One thing I’ve often thought about in leadership is how to lead in a way that doesn’t make others feel inferior or inadequate. Leaders tend to be good at certain stuff, and the idea is to equip those you lead with the same stuff, but the way many leaders do it, it’s intimidating. Then the people say “Oh, Pastor/CEO/etc. is so smart, we’ll leave that up to him.”

    Don’t know if I’m making sense, but to sum it up, manipulating makes others feeling inferior and ending up not empowered to do anything. The best way to fight this I can think of is to be totally drenched in humility, and be very, very encouraging to those you lead.


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