There have been so many books written about leadership. For me, leadership has always been too broadly defined. Some people confuse strong management skills with being an effective leader. I think you can be a strong manager without being a strong leader. I always describe two managers, both very proficient in their work, but one has a positive sphere of influence and not only makes people around them better but creates future leaders. In sports, you could look to Bill Walsh, Tom Landry or Dean Smith. In business, Jack Welch comes to mind.
Politics is another story. Is someone a good leader because many people follow? Does a so-called political leader make those around better at what they do? I do not know a political leader who has helped me grow my business, become more innovative or shown me a different way of operating. Politicians aren’t leaders in the true sense of the word, because as public servants their role is to serve all of us. Politicians have it easy. They use other people’s money to make decisions that have very little impact on their own lives. The day a politician puts up their own money and risks losing their entire net worth over a critical decision or vote then maybe we can place them in the same realm as real leaders.
Remember Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the People’s Temple, who lead his followers into committing suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid. Nine Hundred and Twelve of Jones’ followers died. So when you hear the expression: “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” remember where it emanated. Just because people follow you doesn’t make you a good leader.
In conclusion, a real leader puts it all on the line, has no place to hide and doesn’t have spin doctors to make a bad decision look good.
– Terry Schwartz