Varieties of leadership

Published 12:00am Sunday, June 8, 2014

The defining characteristics of leadership are as elusive as a chupacabra, the hairless dog-like creature from Mexican folklore. Writings from ancient Greece’s Plato to the 19th century’s Thomas Carlyle have promoted the theory that great leaders are born, not made.
Leadership is the ability to influence people socially to enlist their help and support to achieve a common task. It is the ability to organize, guide and direct a group of people toward a shared goal.
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, from the typical chiseled towering figure to the short and insane, i.e. Napoleon and Hitler. Most possess great charisma and intelligence. It is not easy to organize a group of people to achieve a shared vision. History has shown us great tacticians, maniacal monarchs, paupers tired of the status quo and power hungry madmen.
There are many theories as to what makes a great leader and they are as varied as leaders are. Despite researching and analyzing one very important factor has been overlooked. Leaders have followers and there are many ways to get people to follow. Personality, power, position and intimidation are some ways to persuade others to work together. No matter what technique, without followers there would be no leader.
The secret to great leadership is great followers, and I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill type. Those people that are hand-selected to serve at the side of a leader are the key to their success. A leader has a vision and passes that on to their closest aides and they in turn pass it down the line until everyone has a shared vision, the vision of the leader.
No matter what qualities a leader possesses the key to their success is those few people they choose to allow into their inner circle.
Great leaders are made in that inner circle. To be a great leader, you must first learn to be a good follower and then learn who to include in that circle.

Paul Barry is the managing editor and can be reached by email at paul.barry@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.

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