Are you a leader? Do you want to be one?

So, are you a leader? Do you want to be one? If you are a leader or aspire to be one, I suggest you look at yourself in the mirror and ask: “Am I myself, or am I an act?” 

The best leaders excel at being themselves. For you to be an outstanding leader, you must set outstanding examples to those you lead in as many ways as possible. Whenever you interact with those around you, your behavior and words must be authentic. Always be aware you are a role model to those closest to you. Just as importantly, you must serve your followers if they are to serve you.

Also understand the followers who serve you do so for a variety of reasons. Therefore, being authentic, caring, and respectful in your actions and interactions will increase the likelihood they will serve you as well as you serve them. Good leaders nurture their followers so they not only grow, but meet and ultimately exceed their potential.

Of course, we have all experienced leaders with no sense or desire to serve anyone other than themselves. These are those who love the power and influence they can exert over others. Those who follow this leader do so for many reasons; some are attracted by their own love of power — whether directly or by association. Rarely can they accomplish what they are truly capable of, since they remain solely for their own benefit.

So, for good or bad, it does not matter whether one seeks, takes, makes, or is given the role to lead. The demands on all leaders are identical when it comes to influencing the behavior of their followers. The raw necessities the good leader must possess are attitude, behavior, and the ability to communicate with those they lead. Conversely, the bad leader who lacks these qualities, and who either underestimates or does not understand their importance, is left to ponder why problems and difficulties with their followers persist.

An exemplary leader also recognizes that leadership exists within any group with a common goal or undertaking. Among these are those who lead or seek to lead, but there are also others who are reluctant to step into a leadership role. They are potentially capable of leadership, but prefer to only do their job and fulfill their responsibility as good team players. Usually these people are outstanding at what they do, including having excellent relationships with those whom they work and live with. Although they might not accept taking on any leadership roles, they serve and support those close to them. By their actions and words, they already possess the authentic attributes of leadership. A good leader would do well to recognize and reward that individual, as it benefits the organization by fostering initiative and inspiring like behavior in others. 

Leaders are defined by their actions and words, both good and bad. Those close to them can clearly see and know them for who they really are — regardless of what the leader believes themselves to be. Interacting with powerful individuals on a daily basis makes it impossible not to know them, sometimes better than they know themselves. They are not kings who can hide behind their elegant clothes. Instead, whether or not they choose to be transparent, they will reveal their true selves, and in the end will reap what they sow.

I believe leaders emerge in every group endeavor, and that leadership is a natural phenomenon. Without talented leaders, humanity might not have been able to survive — it was leadership that made it possible for people to live in groups.

Good leaders, bad leaders, and those who follow are dynamic roles which constantly change as people emerge from among us to fill them. Each of us possesses these qualities, whether from natural propensity or learned behavior, as they are a foundational part of the human experience. 

Lead me to be me———-And I will lead others to be———–How important is self?


Every act we perform has consequences. Some are meaningless and pass us by like most cars on a highway. They come and go. Other times consequences are so significant that they bring life changing events. If present in this moment we are aware of what is taking place. We see, hear and possibly understand its implications. In this case we may actually alter the consequences of what is taking or about to take place. Which reminds me of the ancient story: “G-d is speaking loud and clear that a tsunami is coming and to take higher ground. One person is not present and does not hear the message; another person is present and hears the message, understands and takes higher ground; same event, but with different consequences.”  For how many thousands of years have humans been told to be present? How else do we hear the message, understand its implications and to alter consequences?

 Consider (once again) the “Kitchen Table.” What are the consequences of talk at the table? Our children witness, hear and learn from their parents, but do they understand?  Not likely, so consequences happen based on ignorance not understanding and do those consequences happening at the “Kitchen Table” repeat throughout our life? Maybe?    

I’ve spent years teaching leadership to leaders and have witnessed the consequences bad leaders are responsible for giving birth to. It’s apparent simply through observation that when leaders treat their followers as “things” those “things” respond as “things.” Anyone related to in this manner knows what they experience and even if insignificant in the hierarchy they pay back in kind with negative consequence. How does a bad leader know they are the root cause of what is sickness in their relationships? They do not, but fault others.Want the best possible consequences with those you live and work with? Be authentic, treat people with respect, as equals and when the opportunity presents itself, empower and nurture them. When problems do arise, and they will, see problems as “logs on a fire” that people gather around for warmth, stimulating dialogue, creativity and the likelihood of rewarding consequences. 

The Damage A Bad Leader Does

It’s vitally important to acknowledge the power leaders have in their words and behavior.  Any leader that does not understand this does damage to their self, those they lead, and the innocent. Instead of understanding themselves and learning from experience they tend to justify their positions and beliefs and blame followers, events and others for their problems. This leader constantly defends their words and behavior.

This is foundational with most bad leaders and why they resist change. In fact, they want things to be what they have in mind and use their power to satisfy their expectations. The idea that they serve is foreign to them. They do not serve, but demand being served. This leader expects certain attitudes and behavior from their followers and compliance is victory to them. Is this a negative example of the power of the “Kitchen Table” and the lessons early learned?  People are not born this way.

The leader’s combination of words and behavior presents those close to the leader the true picture of the leader.  Experience the leader often enough and they become the “king without clothes.” Close followers know the difference between what is acting and what is real. Bad leaders “act” often and this might be their chosen way, but when they lose their cool they are real.

I believe that the differences between bad and good leaders are worlds apart. The good leader IS and NURTURES growth, individual responsibility, and the qualities I so often write about. They thoroughly believe in genuine dialogue and relationships. Their words are not manipulative; they are who and what we meet.

The bad leader does not care for the well being of others, but for their own needs. They require pawns to meet their needs and the willing pawns know this. Those that are pawns do so because they draw power from the one they serve. It is false, but to the pawns it is a power of sorts.

This is all about “learned behavior” whether a person seeks power for the sake of power and self, or to use power to empower others.    Sy

Groups and the Need for Leadership

My reason for continuing to write on leadership is simple. Without leaders, what? 

Leaders are essential to existence itself and yet the responsibilities that come with being a leader are not well understood.  My experiences make it evident that most leaders believe that being an effective leader is about having and using the right tools. Almost as simple as changing the clothes they wear or using a saw and hammer.  In other words, they are who they are only the tools change.

In fact, leadership tools are meaningless to the good leader because they are always “self” dealing with others and issues. The leader that does use tools as weapons to win over others may win the fight, but loses the battle. No one is scared without knowing they are being used and maybe abused and people find ways to get even. For the good leader their concern is about authentic behavior, communication and relationship; they know leading is not about “tools,” but being real, one’s self and what nurtures others and others do or will reciprocate.

Good leaders are good people and are concerned about those they lead. They not only serve those they lead, but also empower them to be as much themselves as possible. Learning about tools/gimmicks to lead is meaningless to them. They are relationship people based on respect, regard and dialogue. The good leader is whole and what you see is what you get.  They possess an inner calling to relate to others as equals.

It is a way of being that comes from deep within a person. I have to believe this is the way good leaders were nurtured as babies and children. In comparison, how were those that turn out to be bad leaders originally nurtured? The “kitchen table” is still where we receive our lessons on behavior. How different are we today as compared to yesterdays?

It comes down to this: Our early lives are not incidental to whom and what we become.  Certainly accidents and unusual experiences play a part in our being and becoming, but the “kitchen table” is one of our most powerful beginnings and we are only students to what others teach. Both good and bad is dealt us and we have no choice but to play those cards.  Sy

A Leader’s Power and Influence

More on being a leader and the power and influence that comes with the position:

I keep repeating that leaders have degrees of power and influence over those they lead. It hardly matters under what conditions. It is what it is and every type leader, whether military, political or civilian has clout. Some use their power in abusive and harmful ways to the point that denies those that follow them any opportunities for their own personal growth. This leader’s concern is only to have their needs and wants met and why followers are there to serve the leader.

There are leaders, fewer in number, whose concern is for those they lead. That as leaders they seek to nurture and to help grow each individual they have influence on to be as fully themselves as possible.  They do this by acknowledging, listening and understanding, not necessarily agreeing with, what followers say and need. They achieve this through dialogue as equals and not monologue, that is more often than not hierarchical in intent. 

It’s important to establish that no group of people and probably no group within the Animal Kingdom functions without some sort of leadership. So the issues is not one of “why leaders,” they are ubiquitous and obviously necessary.  If this is so why do so many human leaders, through their own behavior misuse or even abuse those they need?

I spent many years as a leader and then many more years studying philosophy, psychology, religion and history all having to do with Leadership & Power. My purpose was to teach us to be the best leaders we were capable of. Note: I write “us” because I too wanted to be and understand what it took to be as good a leader as possible.  

When I was a leader I never asked and no one volunteered to tell me what kind of leader I was. In fact, I never asked the question to myself. It was a complete non issue for me. I just did my job and expected that of my employees.

Now as a mentor/leader to others all over the country I need to know for them what it took to be a truly good leader. I also needed to know for myself.  Sy