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Between the pandemic and politics, I’ve thought more about leadership — what it is, what it looks like, what it means — than possibly ever before. The stressors presented to us this year have revealed strength and creativity in some who have found themselves thrust into unexpected leadership roles, and simultaneously exposed weaknesses in others who had an opportunity to shine but have failed to do so.
“Be a leader, not a follower,” we all told our children, particularly when it appeared they weren’t making the best choices or were yielding to peer pressure, but did we explain to them (or ourselves) what that meant? Did we tell them how to be (or find) good leaders? Did we explain that true leadership isn’t always found at the top of the heap? Sometimes the ones at the top of the heap are just bullies and loudmouths.
U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.
Mahatma Ghandi described leadership this way: “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
All of those quotes, from dramatically different individuals in different times and places and situations, intimate the same idea: leaders are the ones who set the example for others to follow. Good leaders set good examples, and bad leaders set bad examples, or worse… no example at all.
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org