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Think about the people who have impressed you the most in your life. If you are fortunate, then maybe a few role models come to mind immediately, and if you are extremely fortunate, you may be able to point to a few role models in your own life.
These people have left an imprint on your mind, revealing to you something about yourself in the way that they live their lives. Either because they have done something great or because they have done something that helped you personally, they have awoken your spirit to the endless wonders of leadership. While we all have our own ideas about leadership, it is important to recognize when someone exhibits it completely and undeniably and to try to learn from them any way that we can. In this book, that is precisely what I am doing to do, presenting my philosophy of leadership, carved out of years of success in the business world, and some of history’s most admirable and world-altering leaders.
All leaders are different, but there are commonalities that they share. Changing our lives by empowering us to become more and to do better, leaders see what others either cannot or will not see. At times, they seem capable of perceiving the invisible, picking up on reality to an extent that others miss. Their vision charts the course of entire groups and nations, stretching far beyond their earthly concerns into a world that many people never even glimpse. Focusing on growth and thinking about others before thinking about themselves, leaders stand for everything that we instinctively praise, all of the traits that we compliment in others. They are emblems for all that we know to be good in the world.
It is important, of course, to make a clear distinction here between bosses and leaders. They are not the same. In fact, there are situations where they could not be any more different. Take a low-level boss in a manufacturing business, for example. The low-level boss takes orders, passing them along, accepting no responsibility for the results of the orders and doing little or nothing to inspire his or her team. Instead of setting an example for his employees, he shouts at them when they do not do what he wants them to do, and if they do not respond to his shouting, then he will threaten to fire them. Does this sound like a leader to you?
Of course not! A leader is a source of energy and rejuvenation. When teams find themselves discouraged or doubting themselves and their purpose, a leader steps in and picks them up. Leaders take the lion’s share of the work for themselves, accepting the bulk of the responsibility, and when something goes wrong for his or her team, a leader accepts the blame. Even if someone else on the team may have been the direct cause of the thing that went wrong, a leader knows that there is no difference between that and if she had caused the thing to go wrong herself. A leader knows that the team is her responsibility.
Throughout my career, I have encountered many bosses in a variety of situations, and by and large, they are not operating on the same plane as leaders. Bosses think about numbers and quotas in favor of people. Bosses look at strict rules and refuse to bend them, even if it seems like bending them is the right thing to do. Bosses do not think for themselves, and they do not make sacrifices for the people who depend on them. A leader does make sacrifices, favor people over statistics, and find flexibility in arbitrary rules if it will benefit others. The gap between leaders and bosses is a canyon.
I have met very few leaders in my life. True leaders are exceedingly rare, and when you meet one, you know it without a doubt. Leaders seem to walk around carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, and yet at the same time, they seem to walk around with a bounce in their step. Despite all of the responsibilities and duties that they willingly accept, they never complain, they never blame others, and they never look for someone to take their responsibilities and duties over from them. They do their work quietly and unassumingly, and by doing so, they silently encourage others to do the same. By the virtues in their actions, they move others to virtue as well.
Stay tuned for more information about the release of Dr Singh’s book on ‘True Leadership’.