A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —General Douglas MacArthur
My mentor, Thomas D. Willhite, told a story in one of our leadership training workshops in the mid-1970’s about a certain individual, who later became immensely wealthy and a respected business leader. At the time of the story, this man was young and eager and attending a seminar on leadership and the principles of success held at a big hotel. About half way through the first day of this week-long event, the lecturer, who was getting fired up with his own rhetoric and regaling the participants with stories of great leadership and great deeds throughout history, stopped and surveyed the packed room. Eager eyes stared back, for the participants had paid their own money to attend and gain the pearls of wisdom on leadership and success.
He then spoke loudly. “If you want to be a leader, stand up!” At which point, everyone in the large ballroom jumped up onto their feet, grinning with enthusiasm. Except one person who happened to be sitting in the center of the first row.
The lecturer walked off the stage and approached this seated individual. “And what’s wrong with you, young man? Don’t you want to be a leader?”
The reply came back quickly. “No, I want to be a leader of leaders”. At which point he stood up on his chair, head and shoulders above everyone else.
The purpose of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers! ~Ralph Nader
Many individuals carry the title or position of leader. It may be leader of the House of Representatives or leader of the Senate. It may be leader of a country, or leader of the city council, or leader of the church choir, or leader of the school board, or leader of the teacher’s union, or leader of a global company. The title and position carry with it access to power and influence that other’s aren’t given. And in many cases it comes with larger compensation and access to information and individuals otherwise restricted to those in lesser positions.But even more than rights and benefits, the role of leader comes with a long list of responsibilities, and it is often in the carrying out of those responsibilities that we begin to see the real character of the individual.
Character is the most important aspect of leadership. Character either energises or alienates.
Leadership is not a title or position. Leadership is about action, about behaving and talking in ways that energize and elevate others to go beyond what they thought was possible, in order to benefit mankind and society. The leader who only acts for his or her own self-interest (read most current American politicians) ranks lowest on the gradient of leadership. Those who think first and foremost about the interest of society at large are those who will become a leader of leaders.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~John Quincy Adams
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
John also writes thriller novels!