The true leader does not set out to lead at all. Whether other people follow is, to him or her personally, of secondary importance. These kind of leaders do not lead, they follow—a dream, an ideal, freedom for their country, a good life for their family. And they are very clear about it, which touches the people around them who then want to share in the dream. True, authentic leaders know they are connected to something bigger. Their wish is to serve that. Leadership is an outcome, not someone’s goal or personal quality. You become a leader because people choose to follow you; not because you have read a book or taken a course on leadership. – Johan Schaberg, 2005. This is a fantastic insight into what true leadership is about. To this I would add that a leader must have a passion for their dream.
Leadership can never be divorced from the individual. And as a leader, you cannot impart what you do not possess. This is why “the main ingredient of good leadership is character”. Yet in the face of these issues and the apparent need for more capable leaders, there seems to be less effective leadership in our nation than ever before. Even more alarming is the fact that much of our society apparently does not want to lead; most people prefer to sit on the side-lines and not get involved—not take risks; they are comfortable being followers even though the leaders they follow may take them into a deep pit!
Warren Bennis wrote that, “managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing”. A strong person can be good or bad. A gang leader is an example of a strong person with a bad character, while an outstanding community leader is one with both strong and good characteristics. An organization needs leaders with both strong and good characteristics, people who will guide them to the future and show that they can be trusted.
Another great leader John F. Kennedy put it concisely: “Courage — not complacency — is our need today. Leadership not salesmanship”. Today we have a lot of salesmen leaders making all sorts of promises to attract followers. However, to be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you and they need to be sold on your vision. Leaders do not command excellence, they build excellence. Excellence is “being all you can be” within the bounds of doing what is right for your particular institution. To reach excellence you must first be a leader of good character. You must do everything you are supposed to do. “The main ingredient of good leadership is good character. This is because leadership involves conduct and conduct is determined by values.” – General Norman Schwarzkopf.
Whilst many place value in titles and positions, it is behaviour that wins people’s trust and respect. One of the foundational leadership principles is that leaders need to model the behaviours and attitudes which they expect from others. The example set by leaders is most powerful when grounded in values and when leaders live their values in their own authentic manner. When it comes to values they are most effectively demonstrated by your behaviour, words count, but not nearly as much as your deeds.
Good leaders lead from the front. They take the initiative to go first. People follow a person, before they buy into a strategy and plan. People need more than grand idea. They need to see the idea lived in the flesh. Faced with unprecedented demands to respond effectively and appropriately to their escalating roles and responsibilities, the world has an urgent need for leaders who can inspire people, help shape them morally, and spur them on to purposeful action.
Trevor Simumba is a Christian International Business Consultant with a focus on apostolic teaching and financial support to Kingdom businesses and evangelistic ministries.