Watching the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s life sent me a clear message that she was what I believe leaders need to be. She cared for her people, listened to them, and did what she could for them. I believe the Queen was a model leader and true to herself, another reason she was loved and honored by so many.
We can—and do—overstate many things, but leadership and the leader’s impact on individuals and nations are impossible to diminish. It is why I repeatedly write that small and large groups cannot exist without leadership, whether it be good or bad.
Hitler and his cohorts (his inner Circle) were as evil as leaders can be. Yet, hypnotized by his personal magnetism and fiery rhetoric, the great majority of German citizens loved him. When Hitler blamed the Jews and other minorities for the demise of what was a mighty Germany at one time, they voluntarily participated in the murder of their own countrymen. What Hitler wrought cost the world many millions of lives. This was an entirely evil form of leadership, yet others followed willingly. Whether a leader is ethical, moral, or pure evil DOES NOT matter. Hitler was ruthless, but he was still supported. Why? I suggest that those that follow and support an immoral leader do so because they feel they have NO VOICE. They see themselves as pawns—helpless to do anything to change their condition and desperate for solutions. Though his solutions were heinous and his message was horrific, Hitler was a strong leader who made most Germans feel he spoke for them. Clearly, he was acutely aware of a leader’s ability to influence behavior and exploited it at every opportunity.
On the other hand, many leaders are entirely unaware of their power to influence behavior. While working with professionals and entrepreneurs to help with their staff issues, I often discovered that this was the problem with the leader. They simply didn’t realize how their power influenced those who followed them. My challenge became how to make leaders aware of this and empower staff so they could communicate (dialogue) with their leader person to person. It took willing leaders and staff to find the courage to make positive change. And they did.