What Leadership Is (And Is Not)


Is Leadership More About What You Have or What You Don’t?

The purpose and intent [of a true leader] shall be to elevate mankind’s faith, and to fill the world with justice – Maimonides, Laws of Kings, 4:10

Everyone must be a leader – The Rebbe

Are you a follower or a leader? Are you compelled to initiate a journey or would you rather follow a template?

There is, by and large, a general crisis in leadership. So dire is the situation that we don’t even have a clear definition of what exactly leadership consists of. What is a leader? Who is a leader? Why do we need leaders? It seems as if everyone has a different idea and we need a leader just to answer all of our leadership questions.

Is leadership a political position, or perhaps a charismatic presence? Might the ultimate leader be tall and good-looking, or maybe intelligent and well-financed?

The conventional approach to leadership has questionable results at best. Let us therefore take an entirely different approach, one that focuses less on what leadership is and more on what leadership is not. Perhaps by discovering what a leader is not we can come to understand what a leader is. By removing the rough we might just come to grasp the diamond. By removing the noise we might just hear the finest of songs.


Every single human begin is a leader. Period. Simply knowing that leadership is not an exclusive club, but is at the core of every one of us, inspires us to lead. The challenge is not to become a leader. The challenge is to embrace the leader you already are, the aspect of leadership that is part of your inner self. For that, it is good to know that A LEADER IS NOT…

Your ability to lead is not of your own invention. Like your ability to see, your ability to lead is a gift you are born with. Does eyesight make a person arrogant every time he or she sees something? Neither shall leadership make a person arrogant every time he or she leads. If anything, the more he or she leads, the humbler a leader becomes. Because A LEADER IS NOT…

A leader is not served. A leader serves. A leader’s own interests are inconsequential. A leader serves a higher interest. A leader’s job is to demonstrate to everyone he meets or everything she touches that there is something more here than meets the eye, a higher vision and a deeper purpose. By drawing on a higher source, a leader represents not what the world is but what the world could be. And the leader is confident in this because A LEADER IS NOT…

A leader is a link in a chain of depth and reality. Every leader emulates the leaders that came before. Every one of us is another link in the chain of existence; and every link connects to the links before and the links after. Leadership is embracing your role in this cosmic progression and sublime symphony. Knowing that you are not the first but part of a greater chain, also teaches you that A LEADER IS NOT…

A true leader does not desire followers. A true leader inspires others to find leadsership within themselves. Leaders are not worshipped. Leaders worship a higher power. By inspiring more leaders, A LEADER IS NOT…

Do not confuse the two. Managers — and most presidents and CEO fall into this category — are meant to ensure that massive enterprises, with many moving parts, work as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. Leaders are all about new possibilities. Pre-existing realities require management. Creating new realities requires leadership. Management is necessary, the same way traffic lights are necessary — they both facilitate efficient movement. But they are not movement itself. A leader moves with new perspective, inspiring the world to abandon a narrow field of vision. And yet, A LEADER IS NOT…

Leadership is a not a fantasy; rather, the leader turns
fantasy into reality

Especially in spiritual or soulful contexts, utopian ideas can seem unrealistic. True leadership effects practical change in the real world. Leadership is a not a fantasy; rather, the leader turns fantasy into reality. To help concretize this, one should remember that A LEADER IS NOT…

As a leader, all that’s required of you is to begin leading in one thing. perhaps give a class, or say something nice to your coworker. And lest you think, I don’t know anything about leadership, remember this: A LEADER IS NOT…

A person does not have to be a leadership expert to lead, just as a person does not have to be an optical expert to see. When someone is parched with thirst, you do not attend a workshop on the nuances of water — you simply give that person a drink. We live in a very parched world, thirsty for purpose and meaning. You simply have to share the water you have. And by ‘you’ we mean you, because A LEADER IS NOT…

A leader is not many things: A leader is not a scarcity, is not arrogant, is not self-interested, is not the first, is not followed, is not a manager, is not abstract, is not everywhere, is not an expert, and is certainly not someone else. A LEADER IS SIMPLY ONE THING:


A true leader shakes people from their reverie and tells them, “No, you don’t need to live a life of desperation and confusion. Yes, you do have the ability to find meaning in your life, and the unique skills to fulfill that meaning. You are an important link in a chain of generations past; you have a legacy worth preserving and a future worth fighting for.”

A true leader shows us that our world is indeed heading somewhere and that we control its movement. That we need not be at the mercy of personal prejudices or the prevailing political wind. That none of us are subservient to history or nature — that we are history and nature. That we can rid the world of war and hate and ignorance, and obliterate the borders separating race from race, rich from poor.

Leaders show us new ways and new perspectives. They teach and inspire us to lead in the same way, to show the world a new perspective and a sublime level.

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10 years ago

I had a child that was a leader, he did not tolerate Social Injustice and Racism. He was of pure heart and defended others. But because his name was Hispanic Sephardic the police did not investigate when he was shot and killed in Arizona.

1 year ago
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May his memory be a blessing and may we only know simchas with the coming of Moshiach now!

Frank Owusu
8 years ago

Great Insight for everyone, everyone is a leader or can be a leader, God bless you.

1 year ago

Amen and excellent! Beautifully said and Moshiach now!

The Meaningful Life Center