Sunday, July 6, 2014

Are You a Leader? Five Qualities a Leader Must Have

Leaders have qualities that distinguish them from followers. ". . . the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers" ~ Ralph Nador.

Several months ago my daughter asked me if I would baby sit her little Cairn Terrier Toto. It would be for a few weeks, and at the time, Toto was very finicky. He refused to eat dog food, so my daughter would cook him chicken breast and rice. When I thought about incorporating into my busy schedule cooking for a dog, I realized that Toto would have to make a major adjustment: He would have to eat dog food. 

I came up with a brilliant plan:

  1. Buy a good quality dog food.
  2. Eat* the dog food in front of Toto.
  3. Watch Toto beg for the dog food.
  4. Give Toto the dog food after a few days of my eating it in front of him.
  5. Toto will eat the dog food.

The theory behind this hypothesis was that because Toto wanted the food that humans eat, if he saw me eating the dog food, he would want it. 

It worked! 

Toto begged for the dog food every time he saw me eat it. After a few days of watching Toto agonize over the "delicacy" I refused to share, I gave him a kibble. And he ate it! In fact, he almost bit off the tips of my fingers to get the crunchy kibble. Soon Toto was crunching on his own bowl of dog food--every day.

I concluded that Toto is not a leader. He is a follower.

True leaders have compassion, integrity, charisma, audacity, tenacity, and foresight.

Leaders have compassion for others. They can sympathize with others, and sometimes this is what motivates them. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people” ~ Nelson Mandela.

Leaders have integrity. They are motivated to do the right thing even if there are no checks and balances. They can be trusted because they have a long history of honesty and faithfulness. “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not” ~ Oprah Winfrey.

Leaders have audacity. They are bold enough to slap the face of adversity. They stand firm on their mission. “When a storm is coming, all other birds seek shelter. The eagle alone, avoids the storm by flying above it” ~ author unknown ( “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear" ~ Nelson Mandela.

Leaders have tenacity. They are committed, so they develop short-term and long-term goals and plans. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” ~ Winston Churchill.

Leaders have foresight. They are future oriented. They use critical thinking to analyze, evaluate, and create. They also ask questions and consider the consequences of their decisions and actions. “Only those who can see the invisible, can do the impossible” ~ Jeffrey Fry.   

Foresight is something Toto does not have. He wanted what I had even though it did not have the aroma of a grilled steak or a crispy bacon strip. If Toto had foresight, he would have realized that the consequence of his “victory” was a near lifetime of eating hard crunchy kibbles.

*No actual dog food was eaten during this study.

How has being a follower or a leader affected you? This is the story in you. Share it.


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