Which type of leader is best?
Most people have ideas, but only few express them and fewer have the courage to share them and rare are the people who get the opportunity to implement them.
In that sense I have been fortunate to be bursting with ideas and concepts, articulate them freely and had great opportunities to try them out. I am often invited to speak to students, and various groups. The topics vary but leadership is rather high in demand.
There seems to be very many myths about leadership. There is a belief that leadership is about amassing power and repeatedly demonstrating that power.
When leading blood thirsty hordes then physical control is preferable, and the leader may have to be at the front of the mob or troops to inspire them. Leading from the front is sometimes required, but only under exceptional circumstances like a grave crisis. However the leader who demands that he or she be central and involved in every thought and action of the organisation or family is actually doing great disservice to the organisation he or she leads.
The low quality leader and the exploitive leader depends primarily on fear and blackmail. The stick is a poor tool for long term stability, growth and success. Unfortunately many organisations including many corporates use this approach.
Building great nations, world-class organisations, vibrant communities and happy families, require inspiration and influence more than overbearing power from the leader.
Leadership, however is not about possessing, controlling and driving physical bodies but of winning hearts and minds.
As my friend Suresh often reminds me good leadership is about making all stakeholders and parties involved feel they are winners.
The thing about truth is that it lasts the test of time.
Here is a valuable truth provided 2600 years ago by the wise philosopher and teacher, Lao Tzu of China.
- The highest type of leader is one of whose existence the people are barely aware of.
- Next comes one whom they love and praise.
- Next comes one whom they fear.
- Next comes one whom they despise and defy.
- The good leader speaks little and keeps himself in the background.
- When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We have achieved it ourselves.’
- Lao Tzu (6th Century BC author of Tao Te Ching and founder of Taoism)