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What is the purpose of leadership? Many people lead as if leadership is about them. I was talking with a woman the other day about her growing success as a leader, and she humbly responded, “I couldn’t have done it without a lot of other people around me.” I said, “it wouldn’t be leadership if there weren’t other people around you playing a part. We can’t call what we do leadership if it isn’t influencing others and isn’t building a cooperative effort.” She is a leader because other people follow and supporting her in a cooperative effort.
People who focus on themselves when they think about leadership have it wrong. They think if they lead well they will achieve some personal gain: recognition, promotion, or wealth. These people rarely lead well. They rarely make others better or make the community stronger. They rarely leave anything behind that outlast them and stands as a self-sustained legacy of their leadership.
Leaders recognize that leadership is about the community; it is about the people. They know and are driven by the recognition that being a leader means when the day is over the lives of other people are better than they were to begin. A goal has been reached that makes the community stronger, the company durable and lasting, and the individuals empowered and fulfilled.
True leaders are others focused. They gain satisfaction investing in others and helping them grow and achieve great things. They see their role as that of a servant. They are leaders because they care about people and are happy to give themselves up for others. There are other characteristics of great leadership, but focusing on making others better is a bedrock characteristic. Without this focus, you may be managing, but you aren’t leading.
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