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message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lubin (andrewlubin) | 2 comments What is it that makes someone a "Leader"?

Looking at the books this group has selected, I've seen Leathernecks, The Bridge at Dong Ha, Charlie Battery, Gates of Fire...what's the common factor that makes someone a leader ?

Is it a loud voice ? A nasty attitude ? Height ? Wearing an EGA ?

I'd be interested in hearing from you what makes someone a leader in today's cynical society.

message 2: by Rhonda (last edited Feb 27, 2009 08:22PM) (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) This is an interesting question but one which requires understanding the segment of humanity for which one is to be this leader. Thus I think that the answer requires another question in order to be answered: What kind of people are following this leader?

The reason I suggest this is that surely a drill sergeant becomes a leader because of his accepted rank and then his ability to require others to perform difficult and sometimes onerous tasks for thoise who are seeking certain skill sets. On the other hand, someone in a boardroom may become a leader in somewhat the same way, being chosen for the job by others within a peer group. Yet both of these leaders suffer the same problem and this is how to continue to be a leader once they have been appointed or elected.

It is easy to suggest that if even a drill sergeant loses the faith his men put in him, sooner or later, he ceases to truly be a leader even though they may tacitly obey his commands. In the same way, a CEO, once losing a board or company's faith, will soon cease to be a leader. My point is that it isn't enough to be appointed or elected to be a leader: one must perform to or above the expectations of those beneath him. Once faith is lost, it is difficult to regain. I would extrapolate this example to that of a husband as a head of household, but perhaps many would find that too old fashioned.

The point remains that one who has become a leader through biology, family connections, school, training or even an election cannot expect to be anything other than a leader in name unless he maintains the faith of those whom he serves. A captain who forgets to order hatches closed in a storm is not much of a leader if the crew finds out, regardless of what he may have done in the past. Consistency, then, is important in maintaining the faith of the people for whom he is a leader. One may always make a mistake, but he must recover and seek to remedy the mistake and do better about such situations in the future. Sometimes even that isn't enough in some cases.

Rhetoric has become a mainstay for leadership in our political system in the USA. Moreover, we have become as selfish as to suppose that someone who provides for or supports our own special interests is worthy of being called a leader. Unfortunately, a true leader remains as he always has, one who is able to inspire others to help him do the moral and correct things which will help all people. Sometimes those things in which the leader believes are not as moral as we would have liked to believe. Sometimes a perspective of history allows us to make those judgments which those in their present time did not understand. Almost all periods of history have displayed this characteristic and our present age is no different.

Leaders will always display human characteristics, especially when viewed with the microscopic cynicism of an age which finds itself more enlightened above all others. I cannot convict our own age of such without convicting so many others: humanity’s main accomplishment, despite its best efforts, seems to have been twofold: we have raped our planet for incredibly selfish reasons using the backs of those least able to defend themselves and we have developed and honed hubris to the point in which we believe other ages should admire it in us alone.

Hence we have one more distinction to be made: the differences between the true leader and one who poses as a leader through subterfuge. I cannot comment on the latter but his or her demeanor should be clear enough, unfortunately, over time. He or she is married to the earth rather than the spirit, his or her own aggrandizement rather than the true betterment of others.

The true leader must then be one who puts aside his own desire for personal gain and looks to the care of those to whom he has been given charge. True leaders, in a word, are those exceptional people who would be heroes, not that others should notice them, but that they should be able to serve others to the best of their ability with the foresight and strength to make the most difficult decisions fairly when called upon. Those who are true leaders may wrestle with decisions of right and wrong, but they will never put aside the desire to make the right choice second to public acclaim. These are rare men and women, indeed, especially when the lure for personal enlargement is so shiny and bright in our age. Let us each pray that we are able to recognize these great men and women, put our special interests aside and band together behind them before we are sacrificed to the cesspool of hypocrisy under the guise of advancement and change.

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