What Is Leadership?

Meanigful-LifeI came across an amazing book titled Toward A Meaningful Life by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.  It’s a fascinating read that gives a fresh perspective on every aspect of our lives; from birth to death, love and marriage, family, etc.

I especially love the following excerpt that deals with the question “What is leadership?” :

In our secular society we tend to think of a leader as a person who’s well connected or who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We judge leaders by what they have. But a true leader should be judged by what he has not: Ego, arrogance, and self‑interest. A true leader sees his work as a self‑less service towards a higher purpose. As the sagists say leadership is not power and dominance. It is servitude. That doesn’t mean that a leader is weak. He derives great strength from his dedication to a purpose that is greater than himself…

….A true leader shows us that our world is indeed heading somewhere and that we control its movement. That we need not be at the mercy of personal prejudices or prevailing political winds, that none of us is subservient to the history or nature; that we are history and nature. That we can rid the world of war and hate and ignorance, obliterate the borders that separate race from race and rich from poor.

Still many people have lost faith in contemporary leaders. The solution is not to resign yourself to the sad state of affairs but to search for and demand a leader of sterling character. The ultimate goal should be to have all the benefits of a democracy and the benefits of a visionary leader. It’s important especially today to distinguish between leadership and demagoguery.  A demagogue may inspire people but his motives are impure and his expectations are unrealistic. It is wise to be a bit skeptical when assessing a leader. Is he truly devoted to his mission or just seeking glory? Is he truly interested in the welfare of others or simply building a flock for his own self-aggrandizement? A true leader does not seek followers. He wants to teach others how to be leaders. He doesn’t want control. He wants truth. He doesn’t impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone’s autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible. But he is the first to arrive at a time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it’s like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.

I think the last paragraph is remarkably poignant and timely for where we are as a nation today.

Feel free to share with me your thoughts.

Leave a Reply