Some leaders are good. Some are bad. What's the difference between the two? And what can we do to help ensure that we get more good leaders than bad leaders? This article explores the concept of great vs. truly great and considers that truly great leadership begins with truly great followership. And that the true requirement for truly great leadership or followership is ... quality.
Hitler was a great leader. Through his guidance, dedication and sense of what was right, he changed and influenced the lives of millions of people. So did another great leader. Jesus. Hitler and Jesus. Both were great leaders of our past. Both possessed classic leadership qualities and characteristics. Each had a strong belief in what he was doing. Each, possessed the quality of selflessness, an absolute devotion to his cause. And both, had the outstanding ability to influence and motivate people and events to facilitate their cause. As far as pure ability to lead, they're really no different from one another Hitler and Jesus. Except for the fact, that Hitler was sick, deranged and twisted! While Jesus was virtuous, pure-hearted and immaculate.
In my mind, it is unjustifiable to describe both men with the same words. Words like great and leader. There has to be a way to distinguish between a leader of people who brings death and destruction, like Hitler. And a leader who spreads hope and salvation, like Jesus. A way to distinguish between the evil that lurks in one leader's heart, like Hitler. And the good that dwells in another leader's heart like Jesus. There is a way.
In his book, "The Essentials Of Leadership", Herman H. Horne describes the philosophy of greatness. In chapter three he writes, "To be great involves only 3 things: to have extended influence, recognition and QUANTITY of influence. But, to be truly great, is to have QUALITY of influence." Where Hitler had quantity of influence and was a great leader. Jesus had quality of influence and was a truly great leader.
So how do leaders like Hitler get into leadership positions and garner such power? How does that happen? It happens, because people just like you and I let it happen. People, just like us, sitting around waiting for someone else to take responsibility for minding the store. FOLLOWERS, who drop the ball. Followers who don't know an issue from a snowshoe who won't state a position, let alone defend one. One reason? A lack of knowledge. In order to help assure quality leadership, you have to practice quality followership. And a vital component of quality followership is knowledge. Knowledge of the issues, of leadership and of history.
Knowledge of the issues gives you a stand you can defend intelligently. Be bold enough to carefully examine all sides of an issue. Too often opinions are formed without creating a foundation of knowledge on which to form our opinion. We then feel vulnerable when asked for our opinion or our stand on an issue. The result? We say nothing. We shrink back and allow those who have opinions that differ from ours have the last word sway public opinion rise to power.
Knowledge of leadership yields a better understanding of what leadership is and what a leader's responsibilities are. That way, you'll know when leaders are abusing their power. You'll recognize there's an issue that needs to be addressed. And hopefully, you'll examine the issue giving yourself a solid, powerful foundation on which to form and defend your position.
Knowledge of history sheds light on how terrible leaders got to power in the past, the mistakes they made and how they affected people. This knowledge allows you to foresee and prevent history from repeating itself.
In a nutshell, knowledge, is the key to ensuring a quality future.
But you have to become involved now! Because the future isn't a year from now. It's 2 seconds from now. Now it's the present. Now it's the past. The future becomes the past with each passing second.
Leadership is a responsibility. To lead in a way and direction that serves only to benefit and give value to the lives of every man, woman and child your actions affect. To be wise, merciful and benign. To achieve good, like Jesus. A TRULY GREAT leader. Not to spread grief and despair like Hitler a great leader who was virulent, poisonous and demented!
But if you don't want to take the lead, be mindful that followership is a responsibility too. To follow with knowledge. And instead of being led blindly like a herd of sheep over a cliff having the intestinal fortitude and the knowledge to say, "Hey! Wait a minute! Something is wrong here" or "I have an idea that might work better."
I have used two extremes, Hitler and Jesus, to formulate a quality continuum if you will. With evil on the left and good on the right. Great on the left Truly Great on the right.
Where on this continuum will the leaders of your future sit? The answer to that question may very well depend on what kind of follower you choose to be. Great or TRULY GREAT?