“Because a leader is human and fallible, his and her leadership is in one sense finite–constrained by mortality and human imperfections.
In another sense the leader’s influence is almost limitless. He and she can spread hope, lend courage, kindle confidence, impart knowledge, give heart, instill spirit, elevate standards, display vision, set direction, and call for action today and each tomorrow.
The frequency with which one can perform these leadership functions seems without measure. His or her effectiveness and personal resources, rather than attenuating with use, amplify; and he and she reuse and extend the skills. Like a tree whose shadow falls where the tree is not, the consequence of the leader’s act radiates beyond the fondest perception. Again we see the paradox of the leader – a finite person with an apparent infinite influence.”
“……… A leader is decisive, is called on to make many critical choices, and then thrive on the power and the attention of that decision-making role. Yet ‘the leader of leaders’ moves progressively away from that role. Yes, he or she can be decisive and command as required. Yet that leader’s prime responsibility is not to decide or direct but to create and maintain an evocative situation, stimulating an atmosphere of objective participation, keeping the goal in sight, recognizing valid consensus, inviting unequivocal recommendation and finally vesting increasingly in others the privilege to learn through their own decisions.
A wiser man put it thus: “We measure the effectiveness of the true leader not in terms of the leadership he exercises but in terms of the leadership he evokes; not in terms of his power over others, but in terms of the power he releases in others; not in terms of the goals he sets and the directions he gives but in terms of the plans of action others work out for themselves with his help; not in terms of decisions made, events completed and the inevitable success and growth that follow from such released energy but in terms of growth in competence, sense of responsibility and in personal satisfaction among many participants.”
Under this kind of leadership it may not always be clear at any given moment just who is leading. Nor is this important. What is important is that others are learning to lead well.
The compliment to that paradox is that: the growth that such leadership stimulates generates an ever-growing institution and an ever-increasing number of critical choices, more than enough of which fall squarely back on the shoulders of the leader who trained and willingly shared decision making with others.”
……….And there are others which, if not paradoxes, at least are incongruities. Have we not witnessed some who have claimed leadership yet never fully achieved it? Have we not observed others who have shunned leadership only to have it thrust upon them?
Each of us is at once part leader and part follower as we play our roles in life. Fortunately there is a spark of leadership quality in many men and women, and most fortunately the flame of future leadership burns brightly in many. It is this wellspring from which we will draw and which gives us confidence for the continued advance of society. Walter Lippmann once observed: “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in other men the conviction and will to carry on.”
(From External Source)