Leadership does not represent any finite or static set of qualities that are to be adopted and exuded by those wishing to engender it. By contrast, it is a living, ever-changing approach to understanding people and the growing ways in which we work. Many picture a leader as a sort of eagle, flying above and apart from his peers whom he inspires and motivates. But true leadership does not distance its primary advocate from supporters of its cause, it brings the two together under one banner. With so much change going on now and all that’s on the horizon, naturally, the question of what makes a good leader arises.
Leadership cannot be a quality sought as an end in itself. It is neither an auspice of superiority nor a license to take advantage of others through corrupt coercion. Leadership is a privilege and a process—it is a means to an end, and that end—typically a form of success—is equally undefinable through crystallized concepts. Those who respect leadership as an honorable privilege better recognize its potential for effecting positive change in the world. What preserves the true power of leadership is humility; what squanders its true power is a sense of grandeur that fails to consider the context of its being. Leadership is necessary for direction, but that does not mean it is sufficient for direction. A leader’s status and ability to motivate is intrinsically dependent on the receptibility of his peers. To lead, one must truly understand and appreciate the strengths of his team members. This requires honesty and communication among individuals working for the same end.
This sense of integrity and interdependence keeps a team together. Lines that are drawn among peers to separate them dissolve the unity that is paramount to the success of a group. A leader’s temptation away from motivation and toward manipulation is his greatest step toward his demise. A good leader develops and maintains a set of principles by which he conducts himself in the achievement of the missions he sets out for himself and his group. Crafting a set of principles requires soul searching and a commitment to learning about oneself and others in order to incorporate values into strategies. Traditionally, the headstrong and impersonal were taken to be more convincing, cool-headed figureheads, but it takes a great deal of compassion to run a team, and a feel for the emotional health of a group is as important as a collection of statistics and skill sets. Leadership has as much if not more of a human element in its way to success as it has a technical or operational savvy.