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On Leadership

Updated on January 23, 2013

The art of persuasive peroration.

                         "Leadership is a quest of men seeking to find themselves and in so seeking, they shape the lives of other people."

 

The above definition of leadership can be construed to mean that the effects one  person has on other people are simply the unintended results of that person's search for his identity and destiny. I disagree with this particular formulation of leadership because of its passive tone and its egocentric direction. To me, true leadership should be directed  centrifugally, so to speak, in that a would-be leader should actively  assume the reins of duty and responsibility not for his own self-fulfillment but  for the well-being of others. The goal of leadeship should always be, first and foremost, the edification of the common good. Secondly, it should aim for the renewal of the sense of unity not only in the leader's immediate environment, but more generally in the area of humanity's shared beliefs and verities.

Great leaders throughout the ages have shared a common wisdom that transcended time and space---- the wisdom of perseverance. These leaders inherently understood that their episodic defeats were necessary impediments, learning hindrances I might add, in the road towards realization of the common good. They showed uncommon grace and dignity in the face of these defeats; they were able to rise again after facing what seemed overwhelming adversities. In the process, they became stronger  because they redefined who they were, and what they wanted to be, and how they made a difference in the lives of those they led. People who  "did their own thing", and in so doing unintentionally managed to change the lives of other people, were not leaders in the truest sense of the word. They were like the comets that blazed ever so brightly in the evening sky but soon  were decimated by their self-consuming brilliance.

A leader's process of redefinition, even now, is mandated not only by the demands of survival and self-preservation but also, and more  importantly, by the exigencies of fighting the good battle for a just and lasting cause. A dead leader is arguably a useless one; a leader who does not fit his goals to the needs of his people soon finds himself devoid of followers. A leader who does not communicate his vision to his followers  simply and with conviction, soon realizes that his bad and inept choice of words leads to unintended misunderstandings. The assertion that a dead leader is a useless one, obviously does not apply to instances, where because the leader is simply very effective in communicating to his followers correct, clear and easy to understand ideas, he becomes even more effective despite his physical removal from the scene. His ideas live on in the hearts and minds of his people; the only time that his ideas are even  in danger of being thrown into the dustbin is when another leader presents better ideas.

A leader exercising his leadership prerogatives, is best reminded of Charles de Gaulle's concept that there can be no power without mystery. In the same vein, there must "always be something which others can not altogether fathom, which puzzles them, stirs them, and rivets their attention." The current occupant of the White House can learn a thing or two from Charles de Gaulle; however much he likes to be regarded as a true leader, Obama has lost much of his authority simply because he allows himself to be too easily accessible, too openly engaging, too loquacious for his own good, and too voracious for attention. De Gaulle again on the subject of power"....nothing more enhances authority  than silence. It is the virtue of the strong, the modesty of the proud, and the prudence ofthe wise."

I like to think that wisdom and authority go together. The reality is, they do mix but only occasionally. On those rare occasions, I can say with certainty that the potential for unfettered human interaction and development is achieved for no other reason than both ruler and ruled are acting in complete unison of purpose. A wise ruler is he who uses his authority like a "heavy ax with a sharp edge--- fitter to polish than to bruise." An effective leader is he who agitates and shakes; he believes in the adage: "A mixture that is not shaken soon decomposes." He is happiest when he is 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 different paradigms.

A leader therefore, should be creative. He should pounce on unanticipated opportunities that could make the lives of his followers the best they could have. He should eliminate what are merely fashionable and replace them with the securely unthinkable. He could say without a tinge of bravado and hubris , that his creative juices are all the more stimulated to flow when faced with the potential for imminent destruction.

Specifically to what extent this  discussion can be applied to the  country's current  social, cultural and political landscape is , I must admit,  a matter of debate and speculation. Suffice it to say that the fight for the mind and soul of  the American people in the coming months or years would  be  exposed for what it had become...rabid, vapid, and  .......

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    • A.Villarasa profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander A. Villarasa 

      6 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Jill:

      Hope everyone is doing well in your corner of the world. I haven't been back to the Philippines since 2 years ago (mostly medical mission work); I hope to join another medical mission maybe next year. Please give my best regards to your mom, as she is your source of constant inspiration. BTW your photos are just stunning. Keep up the excellent work.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      What an excellent take on leadership. You have mentioned here some good qualities of a true leader. Creativity and character are indeed very important. I must add that a true leader also exhibits humility. He/she must be willing to "wash his/her disciples feet" the way that Jesus did.

      All the best to you!

    • A.Villarasa profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander A. Villarasa 

      8 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Dude:

      Thanks for dropping by. I totally agree with you that humanistic education is part and parcel of what makes for a great leader. During the process of becoming a leader he or she must show the necessary skills to communicate where it is that he wants to lead his followers to, and his followers agree of being led to that specific destination.

    • profile image

      Jim G. Arejola 

      8 years ago

      Your essay pinpoints character as the essence of leadership. Unlike talent, character is not a gift...it can only be molded by choice, courage and commitment. And de Gaulle's words add the aura of charisma.

      I am most concerned about a leader's ability to sense when to "self-destruct" so that his fellowmen may flourish and flower to the best that they are meant to be...like doing a Mandela. This is one trait I do not find among our leaders in our country today...they all feel they are indispensable, as witness the proliferation of political dynasties.

    • Druid Dude profile image

      Druid Dude 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      I think the recognition of the leader in the self, upon that path of exploration, is reliant on the teachings which that particular person (Leader) has been afforded, and changing the lives of others, happens as the person reaches consciousness of their own potential, first as a by-product, and then as a direct response to their newly found confidence in their own ability to lead AND affect others in a positive way. The best leaders are usually reluctant ones, those who don't want "followers" but co-operatives. Great hub Alex. Have you seen mine on The Beast. Now, I'm not just running my mouth. I decided I needed to start wearing the bullseye. LOL :) Voting this hub up. My pics on Face.

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