What makes a good leader? Glenn was given a book over the weekend, Towards a Meaningful Life, and he felt it revealed a lot about what makes a good leader.
In our secular society we tend to think of a leader as a person who’s well connected or who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We judge leaders by what they have. But a true leader should be judged by what he has not: Ego, arrogance, and self‑interest. A true leader sees his work as a self‑less service towards a higher purpose. As the sagists say leadership is not power and dominance. It is servitude.That doesn’t mean that a leader is weak. He derives great strength from his dedication to a purpose that is greater than himself.
Every generation has its Moses, a leader who inspires absolute trust, who is totally dedicated to fulfilling his unique role. He understands and appreciates each person’s role in perfecting this world and guides him or her accordingly. He rises above any individual perspective to take a global view, seeing how much each person and each issue fits into the entire scheme of the contemporary world.
A true leader shakes people from their revery 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’re 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 prevailing political winds, that none of us is subservient to the history or nature that we are history and nature. That we can rid the world of war and hate and ignorance, obliterate the borders that separate race from race and rich from poor.
Still many people have lost faith in contemporary leaders. The solution is not to resign yourself to the sad state of affairs but to search for and demand a leader of sterling character. The ultimate goal should be to have all the benefits of a democracy and the benefits of a visionary leader. It’s important especially today to distinguish between leadership and demagoguery. A demagogue may inspire people but his motives are impure and his expectations are unrealistic. It is wise to be a bit skeptical when assessing a leader. Is he truly devoted to his mission or just seeking glory? Is he truly interested in the welfare of others or simply building a flock for his own self aggrandizement? A true leader does not seek followers. He wants to teach others how to be leaders. He doesn’t want control. He wants truth. He doesn’t impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone’s autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible. But he is the first to arrive at a time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it’s like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.
“Does that sound like any leader we have in America?” Glenn asked. “It’s the antithesis really of almost every leader we have of both sides.”