What is a Leader?

I’ve been pondering the question “What is a Leader?” for a while now.  It’s a question that’s always in the back of my mind and I’ve never really gotten a good answer too.

What is a leader?  Well…many definitions boil down to the old adage of ‘motivating people to do something for the common good’. Some definitions say that leadership is ‘getting people to do stuff they don’t want to do’. These are OK definitions, but they don’t capture the essence of being a leader.

I run across people all the time claiming to be leaders and talking about “what they’ve done”  but I’ve found that most of these folks are the last person in line to actually do what it takes to lead. Leading people is hard.  You’ve got to do difficult things and make decisions that aren’t popular. More than the difficult things, you’ve got to do the right things.

I’ve found a great quote about leadership from the Chinese Taoist Philosopher Lao Tzu, This quote says a lot about who and what a true leader is:

With the greatest leader above then, people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When a leader trusts no one, no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say, “We did it ourselves.”

We need more leaders who are willing to put their heart and soul making their team and organization successful. I’ve had it with the selfish folks who call themselves leaders.  You know who they are…perhaps you are one of them.  Those folks who put their own goals above thier team and organization.

Enough of the selfish leader. Enough of the hated leader. Where’s the Leader who works tirelessly to help their team be successful? Been a while since I’ve seen one.

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