One of the striking qualities that shows a leader in a person is the attitude of admitting mistakes – personal (naturally), and ALSO, of his/her team. This nature is striking enough, for 2 main reasons in my opinion – 1) It is very tough to have the (noblest) courage to admit a mistake 2) Consequentially, it is rare to find such people.
In contextual terms – from what I have seen at workplace – I think the above mentioned quality helps discriminate a leader from a manager. Now, there are many such attributes that go hand in hand – People say ‘one needs to take ownership’, ‘one has to have a sense of responsibility’ etc., However, the essence of what is conveyed is the same – being ready to admit one’s mistake.
Last month my friend had to attend a leadership gathering conducted by his organization. He felt a bit bad for his director that the gentlteman had to spend on a day long meeting to explain terms like ‘accountability’ & ‘responsibility’ to all current managers and project leads. This is already a proof to a rarity of ‘real’ (non-pseudo) leaders, no matter whether it is IT industry or anywhere.
I used to have one junior resource who always talked in plurality – ‘We will finish the job, Hari’, ‘We will definitely do it by today, Hari’ – I instantly shut him up on every such occsasion and said, ‘Boss, it is YOUR bloody job, and YOU are responsible’ :)