Understanding the Purpose of Leadership
Consciously or unconsciously, we hold the hope that simply changing our leaders will bring about a change in the conditions of our lives, or that changing our partners will lead to successful relationships. No one can blame you for this aspiration; it resides within each of us.
Despite this aspiration, we have forgotten the true meaning of leadership. Understanding the purpose of leadership is a crucial step because this understanding determines who you are today and whether you will become a leader or remain a follower. If you do not know the purpose of leadership, you will misuse your power, authority, and influence.
You surely know leaders who have been accused of embezzling public funds, leaders who have abused their power and authority to gain privileges, and so on. These individuals became leaders without understanding the true purpose of leadership, whether it is personal leadership or organizational leadership.
* Leadership is the art of fulfilling your mission: every human being should be driven by the desire to accomplish the reason they are on this earth. It is by fulfilling your mission that you manifest your personal leadership. Leadership is primarily a personal matter before it becomes a common concept.
* Leadership is the art of serving your gifts: every human being is born with gifts and talents that they must use for the world’s benefit. By serving these gifts to your generation, you manifest your personal leadership because it allows you to be the solution to the problems around you. These are the two definitions of personal leadership. If you have discovered your mission and the abilities that allow you to accomplish it, your personal leadership can emerge.
What is the purpose of leadership? Why do you want to become a leader?
A few years ago, during a conversation with a guest who was sharing their dreams and their desire to see just and equitable laws passed, but without knowing how to achieve it, I asked them a question: “Why don’t you get involved in politics? I believe it’s the best way if you want to enact laws to protect children, families, and advance your country in a certain way.” Their response was, “Politicians are corrupt, and I no longer want to become a politician. Look at how they steal from their countries.”
You can make an endless list of scandals and abuses committed by people we consider leaders. Religious leaders who sexually assault children, politicians who embezzle public development funds with impunity, business leaders who abuse their power to obtain sexual favors from women aspiring to work in their organizations or already working there. Some men physically abuse their wives and children. People we trust exploit our weaknesses. As a result, we have come to hate and feel disgusted by leadership. What we need to understand is that no government is corrupt, but the people involved in politics are corrupt.
In the midst of this mix, it is always important to question the purpose of leadership. Serving the greater good: we have lost the primary purpose of leadership. Most people we consider leaders are primarily driven by their own interests. If you study the lifestyle of these individuals, you will notice that it is far superior to that of the people they are supposed to serve. They have large houses, luxury cars, travel first class, enroll their children in the best schools while the people they serve struggle to maintain a standard of living that sometimes borders on poverty. All these things have nothing to do with leadership.
But the main purpose of leadership is to serve your gift to the greater good, and that is why you become a leader. Remember that Martin Luther King Jr. had to join the poor neighborhoods of Chicago, leaving his comfort behind to experience their reality and live with these people.
* Giving hope in the midst of despair: there are times when a people find themselves in despair, and many no longer believe in a better future. They become pessimistic. It is in this atmosphere that true leaders are born. Their mission is to restore hope for a new and better world to the people around them.
* Providing direction – a vision: a true leader must receive a clear direction or vision from the Creator, which they must first follow in their own lives before leading others toward it.
* Establishing an environment that enables each individual to fulfill their mission: every human being has come to this earth to accomplish a specific mission. True leaders have the responsibility to create an environment that allows everyone to succeed, including materially.
* Creating an environment that allows each individual to exercise their talents: no one comes to this earth without gifts. Leaders must establish an environment that allows each individual to discover and exercise their gifts and talents.
* Establishing justice: our world desperately needs true leaders who desire to establish justice in every sphere of our society. We cannot deny the need to establish justice in our society as inequalities continue to grow. We all recognize that the world we live in is filled with injustice. Police officers murder innocents based on their skin color without facing justice, politicians embezzle public funds with impunity, and so on. We live in a strange world.
LEADERSHIP: THE OLDEST PROFESSION IN THE WORLD
Leadership is not a product of our cultures, traditions, or a human invention. The art of leading, although present and practiced in our societies for many centuries, was not invented by humans but comes from the Creator. It is He who entrusted humans with this responsibility. This truth has freed me from biases and many requirements and criteria that prevent most of us from manifesting our personal leadership.
Let’s read the creation story, as reported by Moses, the first legislator of the nation of Israel, in Genesis 1:26:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.‘” (NBS)
In this passage, we observe that humans have been given a specific mandate, to have dominion over the earth and everything it contains. Dominion has various synonyms such as control, management, leadership, and more. In other words, humans have been given the mission to manage their environment and everything it encompasses. All these expressions relate to leadership and the essence of a leader. We have retained these concepts when discussing leadership, but we have lost their true meaning.
What should we take away from this statement?
* Men and women were created to lead: the earth and its resources have been entrusted to humans, and we have received the mission to make this world better. The chaos we see, such as wars, hunger in the world, injustices, corruption, and other evils, originates from humans abandoning their mission.
* Men and women have been given the ability to lead: it would not be fair to ask someone to fulfill a mission if you had not given them the ability to do so. Our Creator has placed in us the capacity to become leaders.
If you carefully observe nature, you will discover that fish have the ability to swim, and birds can fly unless they have a problem with their wings. We can become leaders because we have received the ability to do so.
* Men and women have been given the mission to lead their environment and not to lead each other: how many people are following you? A question frequently asked in our seminars because we have linked leadership to the art of leading a category of people and being followed by them. Men are not born to lead women, and vice versa. The theories we have developed are the result of traditions and cultures that have reduced women to mere servants. Both are called to be leaders, but with different roles. The desire to seek followers has nothing to do with leadership.
You are not born to lead others.
* The leadership of men and women is exercised in a domain where each has a gift: every human being is called to exercise their leadership in an area in which they have a gift. None of us can just get up and decide to become a leader in any field. True leadership does not work that way; you should discover your gifts and lead in your field.
* Men and women have the potential to become leaders: becoming a follower is a choice linked to our ignorance: our Creator is not confused about the mission and role of human beings on earth. Like other topics, we have invented discriminatory theories to ensure that a certain race and a group of elites rule the world.
A tomato seed has the potential to become a tomato if it is planted in good soil and if the farmer cares for it according to the necessary rules. The same goes for leadership; you may have the potential to become a leader but not become one due to the choices you make and the environment in which you find yourself. These principles about leadership have existed since the creation of our world but have disappeared with the emergence of other theories and philosophies.
This text is an extract from the book “PERSONAL LEADERSHIP EXPLAINED TO EVERYONE” written by CLET N. MICKOLO.