What makes a great leader? This question has multiple answers depending on who you talk to, what podcast you listen to, or what books you read.
Joel Farar, from Farar Law Group, says, “Great leaders make the hard choice, and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around them.”
Mike Dan, from SMS Marketing, says, “A great leader does not lead by forcing people to follow. Instead, a great leader motivates people. They encourage others to follow them. They also lead by example, which few leaders do today.”
Jake Rheude, Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, says, “Great leaders are incredibly ambitious, but never for themselves. Rather, they are ambitious for the company and possess the will to do whatever is necessary in service of this greater cause.”
These are only a few examples that I found from a quick search about what makes a great leader. Can you see the similarities in each of these quotes? A great leader leads with others in mind and not themselves. There are, of course, many other examples, definitions, and opinions of what makes a great leader. However, there is one characteristic that I have found to be fluid throughout all discussions about the qualities and characteristics of a great leader, and that characteristic is courage.
A leader who does not have courage is not a leader, but rather another sheep in the herd. We have all seen the picture of the one sheep moving in the opposite direction of all the other sheep, as all the other sheep keep mindlessly wandering toward the cliff of doom. Instead of following the crowd and doing what everyone else is doing, a strong leader has the courage to turn around and do what’s best for their team. They will walk against the current to stand for what is right. They will refuse to be bullied, shamed, or even cancelled into doing something they do not feel is not morally or ethically acceptable.
There is a significant difference between “leadership” and “leadersheep”. One stands for what is right with courage and tenacity. They don’t back down from a fight and can’t be bullied to follow. They stand for their team and will make whatever sacrifices are needed to ensure their team succeeds. Leadership cannot be bought, cannot be threatened, and cannot be pressured into doing something they know is immoral, unethical, and against what they know is best for their team. Leadership thinks for themselves and has courage to stand under pressure when everyone else falls. These are the people who can spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Leadersheep are those who are run by money, pressure, threats, and pride. Their focus is on themselves and doing what’s right for them. They don’t look out for the team. They don’t stand in the way of tyranny, but succumb to it and allow it to destroy their people and their company. Leadersheep lead out of fear. They care more about following the masses than doing what is right. Their pride is more important to them than their character or integrity. They fall under pressure and will do what they are told in fear of losing their title, their place in the company, or the money they make. They don’t care what happens to their team as long as they are taken care of. These are the sheep that march toward the cliff of doom. These are the people who will be destroyed by the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I have seen both leadership and leadersheep. I have found that I have more respect for those who take on the role of leadership than I do for those who choose to be leadersheep. I have seen men and women in leadership stand for what is right, fight against immoral and unethical acts, and in the end lose their title. However, they left with their heads held high; knowing that they did not compromise their character or integrity.
Leadership takes courage. Since we are all in a position of leadership, let us lead with courage, stand for what is right, fight against immorality and unethical acts, and most of all, hold our heads high knowing we will NEVER sacrifice our character and integrity to follow the sheep.
As always, stay humble and serve well!