Are you a true leader?

We all know who the leaders in our organization are, right? They are the people in the corner office, the ones who have the political clout, the folks always assigned to the big task force. I’m not so sure. Sometimes the best leaders are not so obvious.

From Jim Collins level 5 leadership which touts humility as a key ingredient, to the leadership of Jesus Christ, top leaders have been visionaries, yet servants. Willing to do what is best for all, to bear blame they don’t deserve, to have less ego yet enough self confidence to not require the spotlight to do the right thing–now that is a leader. Are you that leader?

This subject came up when I was visiting with a young man about his d-1 college sports team. This young man was sharing that the coach had surveyed the team to see who they felt the leaders were and, no surprise, the leaders were the players that caught all the headlines, always start and will likely go on and play professional ball. However, the young man sharing the story asked the question, “who would be the leader in adversity?” In other words, if these young men weren’t successful, would they still be the perceived leaders? What about the young men who don’t start, work out just as hard every day, never pout, pick up the others when they are down, and give everything they have to the team–not their own stats? Who really is the leader? If the starters got sidelined for reasons other than injury, how would they react? The answer to that question may determine if they are a genuine leader or not.

Which is the real leader? The one with the corner office, the title, the popularity and the starter–or the one who participates with passion, is there for others, and always has a positive word of encouragement for all? They don’t have to be mutually exclusive but status or title doesn’t make you a leader–how you conduct yourself does. In Braveheart (the movie), Mel Gibson’s character said, “People don’t follow titles, they follow courage”.

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