What Is The Most Important Attribute Of An Outstanding Leader?

Some leaders appear to think of themselves as gods. This statement is not as far-fetched as you may think, as apparently some followers have a way to expect of their leaders to be gods, being able to work miracles.

Why these statements? I feel compelled to address this issue because, if we look at the lives of some leaders, you can hardly be blamed for thinking that they see themselves as being gods. The things they sometimes do [and get away with]; the things they say [and get applauded for]; and the examples they set [as well as directives they issue] can only stem from one giant misconception, namely, that they believe they are elevated to a level far above that of ordinary earthlings. They live as if they actually believe they are gods. Man-made Gods! Their leadership positions put them in a place where they have power over the destiny of others, and they enjoy using it, even if it means ruining the lives of some along the way. As for themselves however, they have a totally different set of rules that they live by.

But [as with many other things in life], there is another side to the coin that deserves being looked at. Let’s be honest, very few corrupt, overbearing, egocentric, self-righteous, jealous, money-crazy, power-crazy, control-freaky, autocratic, or abusive leaders, started off their careers with the intention of becoming unbalanced, unpopular, self-centred leaders. Many of them started their careers doing uncomplicated jobs, and never even thought of becoming leaders. Yet, when they eventually became leaders, they became sucked into a system that changed their life altogether.

Wrong expectations:

In many cases the Organisation, [be it politics, business, or church] creates the wrong expectations of a leader. A person with the required attitude, personality, qualifications and experience is voted in as leader, but as soon as he becomes the leader, the same people who voted for him expect him to become somebody else. I have seen many humble, down-to-earth workers [and Pastors] being chosen as leaders, and then changed by a power-centric society into someone you could hardly recognise.

But what is it that changes a person from being the humble, hardworking individual, to an autocratic, power-drunk, selfish, or obnoxious [ouch!] leader? There are more reasons than can be discussed in this short article, but two causes that I have personally seen involved perhaps most often, were [a] the forces within a power-culture oriented organisation, and [b] unrealistic expectations of followers.

An organisation with a power-culture has a way of changing every leader into becoming power-hungry, and those that will not adhere, are rejected. Perhaps you have not paid attention to this, but take a typical power-drunk leader, [and thank God not all leaders are like this], and find out who his friends were before he became a leader. Then speak to them and find out what he was like before, and how he changed. Also, see if he still has the same friends he had before he became this important leader. You might be surprised to find how many lost their friends in the process of becoming leaders, and why this happened. Once a leader becomes sucked into a power-drunk system, he sacrifices more than he can afford, to become a person he probably never wanted to be.

Tragically, the same system that sucked them in will most definitely spew them out again.

[The second reason for his change],

Unrealistic Expectations By Followers

Again, this cannot be seen as a rule, as there are many other circumstances and powers involved, yet consider the following:

A person is voted into a leadership position for his steadfast traditional values. Among others, he is admired for his outspoken stance on the importance of marriage. However, as soon as he becomes their leader, the followers begin to change their idol into somebody they would never have voted for. Tragically, the same followers, who voted in a devout family man specifically for his steadfast traditional values, do not allow him time with his family when he becomes their leader. He now belongs to his followers [they think], and they insist on his attention. He has to pamper every follower, and look after the needs of everyone but his own family. In the end, I have seen many of them walk out with neither family nor followers.

Why, you may ask? “Because he was not the person that we voted for”. But, in many cases, it was the followers that changed him into a person they did not want or like.

The point that I want to make, is that it is not easy for leaders to succeed. However, I have found that there is ONE specific attribute that will help a leader succeed more that anything else.

To be an outstanding leader, you must be an outstanding follower.

In the universe there is but one person who does not have a need to follow a leader. That person is God. He has no higher authority to look up to. He is the highest authority.

As for the rest of us, we are in need of a leader. I do not care whether you are the president of the biggest government in the world, you still need a leader. Even Jesus was very clear about His need to follow and obey God. He specifically explained how He never did anything that He had not seen His Father do, and never said anything He did not hear his Father say. [John 5:19, 8:28 & other Scriptures refer] Jesus was the perfect example of an outstanding leader. Yet at the same time, He was the perfect example of and outstanding follower.

When you are a good follower, you not only have the ability to listen to your leader [ultimately God], but also the ability to listen to your followers. Being a good follower, is the only safeguard against being changed into a person that in the end loses it all.

The problem with ineffective leaders in many cases is not about the person being a poor leader, but being a poor follower.

If you cannot follow, you cannot lead. Even if you know all the tricks of the trade, passed all exams, have the skills, and whatever else you might consider important, you cannot be more important than Jesus, and He taught us not to do anything we have not seen our Heavenly Father do.

As for you followers out there reading this, please don’t try to change your leader into a local god. He is not, cannot be and never will be a god. He is a person as you and I. For you to be a good follower, you must follow God with all your heart, and allow you leader to do so also.

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