Who Is A Leader?


We are all either LEADERS or MISLEADERS consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes we give good advice to people and guide them and sometimes we do just the opposite. Sometimes we have good intentions, yet we still end up misleading someone. Our leadership depends on where we are leading ourselves in this world. How can anyone lead people to Heaven if one is on the road to Hell? A man or woman leads the family members according to his or her ideas and ideals. The influential figures lead the people in the society according to ideologies and idiosyncrasies. Popular celebrities lead the people by their media influence according to their own lifestyles and values.

Wherever two or three or more gather, there is always a leader, who knowingly or unknowingly leads the others around him. Why do the others accept someone as a leader and listen to that person and are willing to be led by that person? The people sense the goodwill in the mind of the leader, who may even be a con man trying to dupe the people. Many cheats and swindlers are very kind and have loving magnetic personalities. However, there is an element of TRUST which is reposed by the others in the leader’s character, capabilities and credentials. Patients put their trust in their doctors and believe that they will be cured of their illnesses or diseases. There is thus a strong BELIEF that the leader can show them the way to success or ease them out of their teething problems. This belief depends upon the various causes and consequences which can either strengthen and cement the belief or make it dwindle and diminish as the people realise their follies. This is what happens in politics which spells the success or doom of the political leaders. The belief placed by the people in many spiritual leaders has only increased and further goes on increasing with time even after the death of those spiritual leaders which may be because or some wonders or miracles.

""…When the leader is acclaimed by the people, there is a tendency on the part of the people to obey the leader…..""

Eventually, the circumstances determine the image of that person who becomes the leader. If the leader has led the people out of their problems or toward success, these people have high regards and respect for the leader. They feel that their leader loves them and cares for them, even though the leader may be doing something only for some selfish gain in return from the people or to bring about a desired change in the lives of the people or their surroundings, sometimes even without the knowledge of the people who are being taken for a ride. Thus a relationship is formed between the people and the leader. This RELATIONSHIP defines how strong is the leadership of the leader. How strong a relationship the leader has been able to develop will determine the sustainability of the leadership. Spiritual leaders form deep-rooted heart to heart relationships with the people, who then become their ardent followers. Political leaders generate a hype through oration and rhetoric or blow-up their image through posters and banners in the minds of the people just as the film-actors and film-actresses do, who try to become like human idols in the minds of the people.

When the leader is acclaimed by the people, there is a tendency on the part of the people to obey the leader, sometimes even under all circumstances. This makes the leader a powerful animator and an inspiring motivator. The MOTIVATION factor determines the effectiveness of the leader whether in the locality or society or in the corporate office or factory floor. There are some women who are very influential in their respective residential areas but are unable to motivate people in their offices or factories. This is because they exhibit a different set of qualities and capabilities in their social set up which do not appeal to the people in their offices and factories. Hence, the relevant CAPABILITIES of the leader counts in the corporate world. This is the reason why some successful and most popular superstars do not make good politicians. Influential spiritual leaders are unable to rule the nation. Sportstars are used by advertisers and politicians to build the image of their products or parties. Many of these sportstars are found to be involved in scandals, scams and drug abuse. Many sportstars only make big bucks by selling their popular public image. Thus capabilities build the image of the leader in the minds of their juniors. When the leaders show capabilities and potential they are sending similar signals to their juniors to prove their self-worth. Leaders invite challenge from their juniors only to empower and enthuse their juniors to achieve "out-stretched" goals.

There are some people who simply rise to the occasion especially during difficult times and also give lot of courage and hope to the others, even though they do not possess any special skills or talents. The courage and hope encourages others to face the difficult times which they cannot escape. A poor peasant girl Joan D’Arc gave courage and hope to the French during troubled times. A poor son of a lumber-jack Abraham Lincoln saved the United States of America from falling apart. This HOPE factor has led many nations to freedom. Sheer hope brought Europe out of Great Depression and then the destruction caused by the world-wars.

People who bring about changes, inventions and make things new are forward looking people. Some people are gifted with the capacity to foresee the future positively, inspite of all the uncertainties and eventualities. Every driver, every captain, every pilot has to look ahead, but usually the drivers, captains and pilots expect something worse and are ever-ready to avert accidents, untoward incidents and the bumps and potholes along the way. A few leaders have the guts to foresee the future positively and expect something good to happen and make it happen. Such people are referred to as visionaries because they have a positive VISION of the future. The economy is running because of this positive vision of so many entrepreneurs, industrialists, businessmen and talented people who look ahead of times with cherished dreams and well-defined goals. This positive vision and enthusiasm motivates them to achieve success and they end up leading others to make their dreams come true inspite of all the difficulties and hurdles.

I have made a very humble attempt to define genuine leadership. Leaders enhance themselves in the eyes of others by looking up on others and raising their self-esteem. Leaders form natural human relationships which are not fixed relationships based on the designations and positions given by the top management. Any leader who says "I am Boss" is fooling everyone. Any leader who puts others down or frightens the juniors is only trying to enslave his juniors and make puppets out of them. I once told a General Manager of a well-known corporate organisation very clearly "Sir, I know you are a General Manager, but with all due respect you are not a General".

Francis Sequeira, Mumbai

Author: Francis Sequeira- Mumbai