Leaders are those that have the ability to get things done, to inspire others to greatness.
I used to think leaders were the best at their craft. They were the best sales person, or best at a particular game, or the best at a given sport.
While training for an annual race I run (the River to River Relay Race) I found myself thinking as I ran up and down hills in the beautiful forest surrounding the lake I use for training. I questioned my ability to lead our team when I was one of the weaker runners of our team.
Several of my runners were not “runners” in the classic sense. They did not run in high school or college. They were individuals that enjoyed keeping fit and looking for a challenge. When I approached them about running, they were excited and took to it in a way that helped transform them into “runners” as you might think of. Now, when we run together, they pull away from me early on in the run and finish way ahead of me.
At first, I was discouraged because I couldn’t or wasn’t as good as them, and I was the one that invited them to running as more than a fleeting activity. What I discovered while pushing myself up hills on that warm spring day was that I didn’t need to be the best to be our team leader. I was far from it. What I did need to have was the ability to encourage others around me to perform at their very best. What I needed was to have the belief in another person that they could attain something greater, and do the best I could at helping them achieve it. In this instance, for this team, I became the leader.
Then there are those who think they are a leader when in fact their style, their demeanor might be good for a temporary fix when in the long run amounts to nothing more than being a bully. These are the ones that assume authority yet do not lead. Their actions and words are used to bully their way with others. In the long run, most like this end up alienating those they think they are leading.
Any good leader is also one of the best followers. They know what it is to be inspired by someone with a greater vision than themselves. In turn, they can use this interaction as a foundation to build others up and get them to be leaders in their own right.
Now, I’m not going to say I’m some kind of inspirational speaker or born leader. What I share is only my revelation of what a leader is or could be. There are far more qualified people that can and do lead.
What kind of person inspires the best in you? What are the qualities you look for in a leader or try to instill in those you lead?