On Leadership is the title of one of the essays in my just recently published book “It’s All About Something”. The following is a synopsis:
“Leadership is a quest of men seeking to find themselves and in so doing, they shape the lives of other people.”
The above definition of leadership could be construed to mean that the effects one person has on other people are simply the unintended result of that person’s search for his identity and destiny. I disagree with this particular formulation of leadership because of its passive tone and egocentric direction.
Great leaders throughout the ages have shared a common wisdom that transcended time and space—the wisdom of perseverance. They inherently understood that their episodic defeats were necessary impediments, what I’d call learning hindrances, in the road towards realization of the common good. They showed uncommon grace and dignity in the face of those defeats; they were able to rise again after facing what seemed insurmountable odds and overwhelming adversities. In the process, they became stronger because they firmly defined who they were, and what they wanted to do. In the end they made a distinct difference in the lives of the people who followed them.
In my view, a leader’s vision to be meaningful must be heavily tinged with wisdom. For authority to be effective, it must aim for unfettered human development and contentment. A wise and visionary leader is one who uses his authority like a knife with a sharp edge–fitter to polish than to bruise. A steadfast leader is one who agitates and shakes and follows the adage: “A mixture that is not shaken soon decomposes.” He is happiest when demanding for and getting unexplored ideas; he is at his best when proposing new solutions to old problems; he is at his most constructive when creating new paradigms.
A visionary and wise leader must be very creative, pouncing on unanticipated opportunities, eliminating what are merely fashionable and replacing them with the supremely unthinkable. In the process, he could say without a tinge of bravado and hubris, that his creative juices were all the more stimulated to flow when faced with the potential for imminent destruction.
P.S. I have applied the above criteria to Obama’s leadership style and found it tenuous and vacuous. I am similarly applying it to Trump’s leadership prerogative, and he seems to be on the road to becoming a consequential leader. Only space-time continuum could tell.