Friday, May 10, 2013

John Buchan's Quote On the Task of Leadership

"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there." — John Buchan
One of the biggest problems leaders or managers have is their impression of what kind of person you have to be as a leader. Too often, people have the false impression that leaders have to be
tough, impatient and the smartest person in the room.
In fact, I have a client who is the CEO of an $800 million dollar business. He said his daughter once told him that he is lucky because he can fire everyone. He corrected her by saying that his job is to hire smart and capable people and let them do their job. He explained that while he has fired people, it is one of the hardest things he has had to do. And he still does not like to do it. He went on to say that if she ever works for a company and a manager enjoys firing people, she should run as far as she can from that company.
The point is leaders are not paid to show how smart and powerful they are. They are paid to bring out the best in people. They create visions that require those involved to be and do more than they have ever done. Stretching people beyond their current capacity is one way of bringing out the greatness they did not realize was there.
This kind of greatness is not one you can put into people. It requires creating a destination and environment that calls people forward.
In the words of Lao-tsu: "To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!”
These are just some of the thought processes required to build great nations and organizations. Which kind of leader will you choose to be? 

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