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Am I a Leader?

By | June 2011
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Am I a Leader?
Leaders are charismatic, inspirational, and trustworthy. They have a vision. They are good communicators, good listeners, good problem solvers, etc., etc. Look up the word “leader” or “leadership” and you will find a list of traits or attributes that make someone a leader. I don’t argue that good leaders possess some of these characteristics and skills. But, that is not what actually makes someone a leader. You are a leader if someone else chooses to follow you. Period! There are many examples of terrible leaders who have led [pic]people into disastrous situations. Cult leaders like Jim Jones whose followers in Jonestown poisoned themselves or the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas or Heaven’s Gate in San Diego are horrifying examples. There are certainly many examples of gang leaders who have led young people into crime and prisons or to their death. Unscrupulous televangelists lead gullible, lonely people into poverty. There is, undoubtedly, a lot of power at work with many of these people. Why people choose to follow them is still, in many ways, a mystery. But follow them, they do. And, it is important to recognize that in every case, there is an element of choice. No matter how powerful the person may seem to be, there is a limit to that power. There are always choices. Those choices may not be obvious. They may not be very attractive, but there are choices. For every person who follows a cult leader, there are many who do not. For every young person who follows the gang leader, there are some who do not. There are those who watch the televangelist and don’t send money. No one knows all of the reasons people make these decisions but it is important to know that they have their reasons. We all know that managers who rule with coercive power often enjoy short term success It is not that hard to get people to work faster for short periods of time. “Do this or else,” works as long as people haven’t figured out how to avoid the “or else.” There is, of...

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