To most people being a leader in their field is something that is striven for. Nearly everyone who yearns for success seeks to earn the title of a leader. As a leader we have control over various situations and we have a chance to leave our mark. While this may sound all well and good, the bottom line is that the act of ‘leadership’ standing alone can go in a lot of directions. What I mean by this is that even though the term leadership sounds like a positive and prestigious word, is often acted upon in ways that are the exact opposite of prestigious and positive. Throughout the history of mankind we have had our fair share of ineffective, corrupt and divisive leaders. While they may have held the knowledge, personal skills and possessed the revealing presence in order to gain a leadership role, once they begin to make decisions, it was clear that their morals were not in the best interest of their following. They were instead more geared towards self-benefit with the ultimate goal of being seen as powerful and important.
We don’t have to dig very deep to find these type of leaders in our history. Look no further than the likes of our most well-known dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and so on. While these are obviously very extreme examples, They definitely justify the idea that simply being a ‘leader’ does not mean that you are being effective or having a positive impact on your following/society. As a society we have put the idea of being a ‘leader’ on a pedestal where many people are simply striving for the title of ‘Leader’ while disregarding or underestimating the actual responsibility once the position is acquired. In other words, some strive to acquire a leadership position solely for the personal benefit and status that comes with it. I believe this is why a lot of leaders have failed in the past and continue to fail.
Instead of leadership standing alone, I believe this term needs to be expanded upon. Effective leadership is the key. Effective leaders are the ones who are going to prioritize making a positive impact on the following above all else. Effective leadership is selfless leadership. This is also a reason why it is not easy to find true effective leaders. We as humans are selfish by nature. This means even the best of us at one point or another make decisions based on our own personal benefit, and rightfully so. However, leadership positions require a selfless mindset. This mindset must also be instilled within the members of your following stemming from your words & actions.
How is this selfless mindset developed? This comes when you begin to realize the power of the term legacy. Merriam-Webster gives two definitions for this term and they couldn’t be more polarizing in terms of the concept of effective readership. The first definition is quite deceiving as it states: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property. This is not at all what we mean by legacy in regards to effective leadership. Money and personal property are deviants in our quest to lead in an effective manor. They are certainly are important to an extent. However, they should serve not as our main focus, but as a result of the positive impact we make on others. Essentially, money and valuables are simply a ripple-effect of effective leadership. The second definition states: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. This is truly what effective leadership is all about. That “something” in this definition withholds the true power of the term legacy. Our “something” is the positive impact we leave behind for others to follow. The bottom line is, we will all die one day and all that will be left behind will be the memories that others have from us. All the worldly success & money is all well and good and definitely shouldn’t be shunned aside. Nevertheless, when we finally come to terms with what really matters and accept that our legacy is at stake, we create peace of mind and a will to do right by the people who put their trust in us. Effective leadership is responsibility. And by accepting that responsibility we carve out our path towards leaving our “something” behind. In turn, this creates true fulfillment & legendary status for the next generations to follow.
Don’t let the accolades that come with owning a leadership role become your main motivation. Don’t accept being just a “leader”. Don’t let the title alone control your motives. Don’t let leadership stand alone…