LEADERSHIP, FOR CAUSE OR CASH?
— Walter Vieira is a senior management consultant and author of eleven books including ‘The Winning Manager’; ‘Manager to CEO’; ‘World Passport for the Global Manager’
I have been looking at leaders and the process of leadership for a long time with a discerning eye. People have looked at some leaders with awe and treated them with great deference. People have also looked at some of the other so-called-leaders with derision - and this has given rise to quotes like “only one man in a thousand is a leader of men. The other 999, are followers of women“. The genuine leaders are those who have a vision, set goals and motivate their followers to want to achieve those goals. They get others to do what they want done, and often stop from interfering when they are doing it. These goals are for the common good – like freedom from colonial rule (case in point: Mahatma Gandhi); or freedom from dictatorship (like Fidel Castro); or freedom from discrimination (like Martin Luther King). They all had a large following and it made me ask Jagdish Sheth, a well-known management consultant at Emory university in the USA, “who is a leader?” And his answer was very simple. He said, “anyone who has followers, is a leader.” Some of those who claim to be leaders, both in politics and the industry may find that the followers exist more by coercion than by choice. This is where the story of President Eisenhower is so relevant. One day, when the subject of leadership was brought up by one of his staff members, Eisenhower took a small piece of string and laid it on his desk. “Look,” he said, adding, “If I try to push it, I don’t get it anywhere. But if I pull it, I can take it anywhere I want.” Eisenhower understood the essence of leadership. Most of the great leaders we have seen in history were those who fought for a cause. They often made great sacrifices (Nehru); suffered deprivations (Ataturk); went to jail for many years (Mandela) or were...
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