|“Leaders are people who raise the standards by which they judge themselves – and by |
which they are willing to be judged. The goal chosen, the objective selected, the
requirements imposed, are not merely for their followers alone. They develop with
consummate energy and devotion their own skill and knowledge in order to reach the
standards they themselves have set. This whole-hearted acceptance of the demands
imposed by ever higher standards is the basis of all human progress. A love of high
quality, we must remember, is essential in a leader.
Dependability is another requirement in a leader. To be dependable is to be willing to
accept responsibility, and to carry it out faithfully. A leader will always be willing to take
counsel from his people, but will often have to act on what his own mind tells him is right.
This demands that the leader has trained himself out of any inordinate fear of making
To embark successfully on a career involving leadership demands a courageous and
determined spirit. Once a person has decided upon his life work, and is assured that in
doing the work for which he is best endowed and equipped, he is filling a vital need, what
he then needs is faith and integrity, coupled with a courageous spirit, so that, no longer
preferring himself to the fulfillment of his task, he may address himself to the problems
he must solve in order to be effective. One mark of the great leader is that he feels
sufficiently secure to devote his thought and attention to the well-being of his
subordinates and the perfection of his task, rather than being constantly worried about
the approval or disapproval of others. He who would be a leader must pay the price in self-
discipline and moral restraint. This entails the correction and improvement of personal
character, the checking of passions and desires, and an exemplary control of one’s bodily
needs and drives.
Leaders have to submit themselves to a stricter self-discipline and develop a more
exemplary moral character than is expected of others. To be first in place, one must be
first in merit as well.
It should not surprise Us then, to find that the greater number of acknowledged leaders
have been people who trained themselves in the art of discipline and obedience. He who
has not learned to render prompt and willing service to others will find it difficult to win
and keep the goodwill and co-operation of his subordinates.
Further, a leader must possess initiative, which is the creative ability to think in new
ways and do new things. The leader has always to stay ahead. He cannot afford to set up a
procedure, and then fold his hands and linger lazily watching it work. He cannot be
content merely to see new trends and take advantage of them. He must keep his
imagination vividly alive, so as to originate ideas and start trends.
A word of warning is in order here. To help one’s subordinates or dependents at the cost
of harm to the public, is tantamount to sacrilege and blasphemy. It is unfortunate, that
many in positions of leadership, both great and small, have been found guilty of such
A good leader is devoted to his work and will willingly forego even the demands of sleep
to see its accomplishment. This does not mean that he is impetuous. On the other hand,
he maintains a balance between emotional drive and sound thinking.
His labors, which sometimes appear excessive, derive from his firm realization that
unless a man undertakes more than he can possibly do he will never be able to do all he
can do. It is his enthusiasm that stimulates his energy.
No matter what our point of departure in speaking of leadership, we reach the
inescapable conclusion that the art of leadership consists in the ability to make people
want to work for you, when they are really under no obligation to do so.
The true leader is one who realizes by faith that he is an instrument in the hands of God,
and dedicates himself to be a guide and inspirer of the nobler sentiments and aspirations
of the people. He will kindle interest, teach, aid, correct and inspire. Those whom he leads
will co-operate with him in maintaining discipline for the good of the group. He will
instruct his followers in the goals towards which to strive, and create in them a sense of
mutual effort for attaining the goal.”
– Girmawi Qedamawi Haile Selassie