by Henrylito D. Tacio
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things,” said Ronald Reagan, the Hollywood actor who became the president of the United States.
Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, also said: “Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”
“A man can only lead when others accept him as their leader, and he has only as much authority as his subjects give to him,” Bandon Sanderson, author of The Well of Ascension, wrote. “All of the brilliant ideas in the world cannot save your kingdom if no one will listen to them.”
William Barclay once shared this story. At one point, Alexander the Great and his army were dying of thirst after marching eleven days. Suddenly, they came upon some local farmers who were fetching skins full of water from a hidden river. Seeing the famous general choked with thirst, they offered him a helmet filled with water.
The farmers told him, “To our children. But your life is more important than theirs. Even if they all perish, we can raise a new generation.”
Then Alexander took the helmet filled with water into his hands and looked around to see all his soldiers eyeing the water and licking their dry lips. He did have the courage to drink but gave back the water untouched by the farmers.
“If only I would drink,” he pointed out, “the rest of the soldiers would be out of heart.”
At that, the soldiers rallied around him as never before and defied their fatigue and their thirst. “To follow such a leader is a privilege,” they said.
John Holt, the man behind Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling, gives this insight: “Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. ‘Leadership qualities’ are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.”
A disciple of Confucius asked the master: “What are the basic ingredients of good government?”
He answered: “Sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the confidence of the people.”
“But,” continued the disciple, “suppose you had to dispense with one of these three things, which would you forego?”
“Weapons,” said the master.
The disciple persisted, “Suppose then, that you were forced to choose between the two left, which would you forego?”
Confucius answered, “Food. From of old, death has been the lot of all men, but people that no longer trusts its rulers is lost, indeed.”
Famous people from the past have shared some thoughts about being a leader. American President Abraham Lincoln suggested: “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.”
In Long Walk to Freedom, South African president Nelson Mandela compared a leader to a shepherd. “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind,” he wrote.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be,” said Rosalynn Carter, the wife of American president Jimmy Carter.
Election is approaching. And let me share this story in order to give a proper perspective as to who should vote for.
A four-year-old had been elected chairman of a neighborhood group of older boys. The father of a member asked his son why they had elected such a little fellow.
“Well, you see, Dad,” the boy explained, “he couldn’t be secretary because he can’t read. We couldn’t elect him treasurer because he can’t count. He’s too little to throw anyone out, so we couldn’t make him sergeant-at-arms. And we knew he’d feel bad unless we elected him to something, so we made him the chairman.”
And remember these words of Peter F. Drucker: “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”