Leadership 101

I have been watching an interesting dynamic taking place in the horse paddock over the past few weeks. For a while now, our little herd of four horses has been led by Sparky. The other three horses all acknowledge and respect Spark’s leadership. His “leadership style” – if we can use such a phrase for horses, seems to be a blend of quiet confidence and consistency. The result, is that the other three horses, though respecting his leadership position, also are not afraid to be near him.

All this changed a little while ago, when our new horse, Steve, joined the herd. Overnight, Steve assumed leadership of the herd. I have watched as the other four horses all made sure that they got out of his way, didn’t eat his hay and generally moved, when he “said” move. However, I also noticed that none of the other horses hung around with Steve – he might have been the leader, but he was also alone…

Leadership is the cornerstone of a civilized society – workplaces, politics, education, religion and even our families, rise and fall on leadership. Almost all of us at one stage or another are both people who lead and people who are led. So, what sort of leader are we? What sort of leader will we follow? I have been privileged to have seen some wonderful leadership that empowered, encouraged and enlarged who I am as a person. I have also sadly, experienced leadership that belittled, limited and even abused its position. Leaders so riddled with insecurity, that like Steve, they seek to control and demand to be followed, not by stint of what they have achieved but simply because they had a title or position. People may follow, but the respect – the sense of camaraderie that comes from knowing that your leader believes in you is missing…

In our families, our schools, our workplaces – do we set such an example that others follow, not because they have to, but because they want to. As a society, more than ever before, we need men and women who will lead with a purity of heart, a selfless motivation and an “others” first attitude. We need men and women who are congruent – with hearts of integrity. Men and women who refuse to lead out insecurity but seek to be courageous.

As I look out the window at Spark and Steve, I ask myself again – will I be a person – a leader – who demands that others follow or a leader who others willing follow? Will I be a “Sparky” kind of leader or a “Steve” kind of leader…

photo [94229]

Sparky and Smokey enjoying some time together.

Advertisements