Analysis: What makes a true and competent leader (part two)?

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut Thijoak

January 11, 2015 (SSNA) — With so many people purporting to be leaders these days, how do we recognize a true leader? To answer that question, we must step back and ask: What is it that a leader is really trying to accomplish?

A true leader wants nothing more than to make people stand on their own, as leaders in their own right. Instead of trying to blind us with his or her brilliance, a true leader reflects our own light back to us, so that we may see ourselves anew.

Moses was the quintessential leader. We see in Exodus that he was a shepherd – a rather modest beginning for the man who would speak to God. He kept watch as thousands of sheep wandered the fields. Moses noticed that one sheep was missing and went off to look for it, finding it at a distant brook. When the sheep had finished drinking, Moses lifted it onto his shoulders and carried it back to the flock.

When God saw this, he realized that Moses was a man of reason, empathy and selfless devotion, a man truly worthy to lead His people. After all, no one was watching Moses; he could easily have thought to himself, why be concerned with one sheep when there are thousands?

In our secular society, we tend to think of a leader as a person who is well-connected, who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We judge our 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 selfless service toward a higher purpose. As the sages say, “Leadership is not power and dominance; it is servitude” This does not mean that a leader is weak; he derives great strength from his dedication to a purpose that is greater than himself.

Each 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 each person and issue fits into the entire scheme of the contemporary world. 

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.

Centuries ago, kings and queens ruled the world, but we are today far removed from the very concept of absolute leadership. Indeed, leadership would seem to contradict our democratic tradition, which has taught us not to subordinate our lives to another human being.  But we cannot afford to be so literal-minded: If the ideals of democracy were followed to the extreme, if the public demanded a referendum for even the smallest piece of legislation, society could not function. So our current political makeup is a pragmatic and acceptable compromise, allowing individuals a role in choosing their leaders while holding the leaders responsible to society.

Still, many people have lost faith in contemporary leaders. The solution is not to resign yourself to this 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 democracy and the benefits of a visionary leader.

It is important, especially today, to distinguish between leadership and demagoguery. A demagogue may inspire people, but his motives are impure and his expectations 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 aggrandizement?

A true leader does not want followers; he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want control; he wants the truth. He does not 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 the 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 is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.    

A true leader must be a living example of his teachings. When we see that a leader’s personal life embodies his philosophy, we too are inspired to learn that philosophy. Conversely, if we see that a leader does not live by his own words, we cannot trust him.

Until went we understands why we are being elected by our beloved citizens, henceforth our own voters and the land we vowed to develop will be free and smile back at us….

I have spoken my words and may the gods of the land hear my voice……

Cde. Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is a writer and commentator and He is the Chairman of SPLM Youth League Chapter in Egypt he can be simply reach through [email protected]

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Analysis: What makes a true and competent leader (Part One)?
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