Just the other evening, the question was asked as to how we define leadership, or what is leadership? This is not a simple question. It seems simple, but I found that it took a great deal of thought. I asked myself the question, what qualities do I admire in a great leader?
The first thing that came to mind is a quality of authenticity. Someone who is authentic can be trusted, good or bad, you have an idea of how they would act or respond. They are true to themselves, they know who and what they are. They know their strengths and shore up their weaknesses by the talents of those around them.
A great leader has a vision and involves those around him or her in that vision. They care about those they lead. They know, to lead efffectively, they need to serve those who they lead. By serving them and providing the resources they need, they accomplish their own goals. They seek out the talents of those on their team and value their contributions. They seek out to cover the weaknesses of one link with the strengths of another.
A great leader is open to new ideas, changes and opinions. They know that they don’t know it all. They listen to opposing views and may respectfully disagree but yet garner what is good from the other viewpoints. A great leader is responsible for the outcome of the vision. It is their responsibility to teach, train, coach and coax their team members to succeed. A great leader trains others to be great leaders. It is a mentoring situation where information flows freely between the parties to create a stronger, more vibrant vision. He or she allows their team member to rise to the task, to take ownership of their portion. Leaders appreciate the differences in people, knowing that it takes many different talents to create an incredible force. They seek out the uniqueness of every individual. The 17th poem of the Tao says this:
When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust people, you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”
Jesus was an incredible leader. He deserves our awe and amazement. He said to the crowd and his disciples, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt 23:11,12 NIV. He amazed his disciples later by washing their feet. He demonstrated to them that true leaders are exalted because of their servitude, because of their love and caring for others.
Of course, leadership involves so much more than this short article can offer. But I think it begins to answer the question, what qualities does a great leader possess? What are your thoughts?