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How Do We Define Leadership?

Wherever you see a successful business, know that there is a leader making courageous decisions. This person walks the path that others dream of but fear to tread. The path to becoming a leader is actually a path of personal growth, learning how to utilize all of one’s resources and becoming all that one can be.

Most believe that leadership is an innate quality that some have, not others. They believe that leaders are born not made. Nothing can be further from the truth. Each one of us has the potential to stand tall, be a light to others, clearly define a vision and mission and take charge. Within every individual, an “Inner Leader” is waiting to be born. So how are leaders different from the ordinary?

First, let us define leadership so that we are all on the same page. Leadership is the process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective. Leaders have vision, which they share with others. The leader binds a group of people with beliefs, values and knowledge.

Many individuals think of a leader as having power over others. These leaders mistakenly use their power to dominate and control. This is not leadership, but domination. It is a sign of weakness, not strength.

Seconly, true strength comes from understanding that the real function of a leader is to serve, to actualize a larger vision, and be dedicated to a cause beyond one’s personal concerns. Rather than think that others are there to serve you, realize that each person on your team is someone you are there to help. It is your job to bring out the best in him/her. When you help them become all they can be, when you share your vision and bring it alive in them, you are truly leading.

This key can be implemented by putting your attention on the well-being of others, not just necessarily on your goal. Others, sensing your concern, feel cared for and uplifted. They naturally work to the best of their capacities and offer support in return.

Third, true leadership is more of a relationship between the leader and the followers than it is about the person who is in charge. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

The foundation of this relationship is trust. Ethics refer to the principles that define behavior as right, good and proper. There is a strong link between leadership and ethics. Leaders must themselves be ethical in their decisions and actions in order to influence others to behave accordingly. On the other side, a leader with poor ethics will develop a following of people who produce strife, contention and little to no positive results.

Leadership is an art that you can master. It calls for you to raise your performance to higher standards and think outside your limitations. The basis of good leadership is character and the willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of the people in your organization. In short, it takes nerve!

Leaders, by definition, set examples for others to follow. However, before that happens, they will have to prove their worth. Those expected to follow are constantly observing leaders. For this reason, integrity and courage define leadership better than any pompous statement of job title, credentials or college degree!

Are You a Driver or a Leader?

The following is a true story about a leadership training seminar held by Joe Batten. He is an accomplished public speaker and member of the National Speaker’s Association Hall of Fame. He wrote the best selling book titled: “Tough-Minded Leadership”.

A number of years ago, Joe met with a group of 35 CEOs for a daylong seminar on his favorite subject, Leadership. Early in the presentation, he asked them, “How many of you are leaders in your company?” Every person in the room raised his hand. Joe smiled and said, “I’ll ask you the same question after I share this true story with you.”

In the Middle-East there are two countries, separated only by a border, who have large sheep and mutton industries. The cultures of the two countries are radically different and they are hostile to each other. In fact, they have even fought wars with each other.

In one country, the shepherds walk behind their flocks. In the other country, the shepherds walk in front of their flocks. Now remember, this is a true story.

In the country where the shepherds walk behind their flocks, the quality of the mutton and the wool is poor and it is not a profitable industry.

In the country where the shepherds walk in front of their flocks, the quality of the mutton and wool is excellent and the profitability is high.


In the flocks where the shepherd walks behind and pushes, drives, corrects, and is always in charge, the young sheep grow up afraid to stray from the flock for fear of being rapped up-side the head by the shepherd’s staff or having the dogs sent out to round them up.

They have no opportunity to explore for better grass and water, or to play with other young lambs. They simply become
obedient, passive and apathetic. By the time they are grown, they have lost all initiative. They are not really healthy.

In the country where the shepherds walk in front of their flocks, the young lambs have plenty of opportunity to stray, play, experiment, and then catch up to the flock. Instead of feeling overly controlled, compressed, repressed, depressed and suppressed, they feel free, empowered, enhanced and stretched. They eat more, sleep better and grow up large and healthy. They are truly led.”

When Joe finished his story, assuring the executives once more of its authenticity, he asked again, “How many of you truly lead in your company?” Not a hand was raised.

The reason I told you Joe’s story was to make a distinction between Driving an organization forward and Leading it toward success, and to let you know that that is a fundamental choice you can make. I feel it is the most important decision you have to make in order to succeed.

I say you are Driven by your fears and you are Led by your values and your vision. Leaders lead by virtue of their vision (and your vision is the experience and expression of your values). That is what people really follow- Vision. Nobody likes to be driven. As the leader in your organization, it is your duty to create, communicate and hold a powerful and empowering vision for yourself and your people.

Remember the moral of Joe’s story: Driving your organization is not healthy; choose instead to lead by example guided by your vision.

Let us now analyze the ten major characteristic of a good leader.

1) Honesty - Reliable behavior on your part will win trust and respect from others.

2) Vision - You need to be able to see ahead and set goals for the future.

3) Inspiration - The best way to motivate others to reach new heights is to teach them to believe in themselves.

4) Intelligence - Learn from every situation, and from those who have a certain expertise that you might lack. Observe, ask questions and always be seeking knowledge - that is what true intelligence is all about.

5) Fair-mindedness - As a leader, it is much more important to be fair than to be popular. Playing favorites is a sure fire way to failing as a leader.

6) Open-mindedness - An open-minded leader is an effective one.

7) Boldness - You must have the nerve to take calculated risks and maintain the ability to stay calm and confident under pressure.

8) Imagination - Be creative in the way you set new goals, plans and methods.

9) Perseverance - In the words of Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

10) Courage of Conviction - It takes courage to deviate from the trodden path and lead people to success.

Now take a moment to find out what makes leaders thrive.

Leaders are risk-takers. They thrive on adversity and challenges but the more important attribute is that most of them are also capable of managing and mitigating their risk.

True leaders understand and appreciate that great things are rarely achieved single-handed - a team is required to achieve success. One of the traits of a truly great leader is their ability to build a powerful and successful team of like-minded people. Leaders succeed by helping people they work with become successful themselves.

Leaders are good listeners. It is a commonly held belief that leaders are impatient and rarely listen to others. In fact, the truth is the quite the opposite. They have the innate ability to foster good relationships among team members and have exceptional communication skills that inspire total commitment and follow through from their co-workers.

Leaders are quick decision makers. Strong leaders are quick on their feet when taking decisive action, great at making spontaneous decisions and good at long-term strategic thinking. It is their general awareness, alertness, the ability to read and analyze a situation and the tendency to think strategically that makes them the great leaders that they are.

Good leaders are not control freaks. It is true that one of the basic characteristics of leaders is their need to control things. However, what makes them different is the way they respond to stress. Their performance under pressure is what sets them apart from the crowd. Good leaders become effective leaders by being able to delegate responsibilities and inspire trust among the followers.


If you are seeking to become a stronger leader, you will have to show confidence, energy, determination, self-discipline, willpower, and spirit. Only then will you be able to motivate others and lead them to greater achievement. I believe everyone can improve their leadership skills, provided they follow a leader of their own.

Finding and developing the leader within yourself is more about the journey, not the destination.

Luckily, for you, expert guidance is available in the form of this book and by all the contributing authors herein. They are here for you; they have given you their contact information and are waiting for you to get in touch with them.

Allow them to guide you by reading their words and through personal interaction with them. Turn to them for guidance and you will be well on your journey to finding and growing the leader within yourself for greater health, wealth and prosperity.

By Daniel Sweet

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