Leaders can explain or they can embody.
Say, for example, they lead curriculum and instruction in a high school and believe that online learning is important for students to experience at least a few times before they go to college. An explainer would make the case, would present the evidence, might tell a story or two, and would try to influence teachers to engage students in online learning. An embodier, on the other hand and from time to time, would run meetings with those same teachers using online portals or tools. She would use the tools she wished to promote, allowing the experience of those tools to make the case for her.
An explainer leaves certain people behind — in the above case, those faculty members who do not listen or respond well to lectures or talking. An embodier leaves behind certain people, as well — in the above case, those faculty members who have difficulty learning from what they see and experience and then adapting it to their own circumstances.
As a leader, you have to decide how you want to teach. You have to decide which followers you want to lead. And of course it doesn’t hurt to vary your practice, to make things less black and white than I have made them.
“Leadership: A Fan’s Notes # 1” can be found here. I’ll aim to keep this series going if you like it — and probably even if you don’t. Shows you what kind of leadership I lean towards.