Once a giraffe and a lion were neighbors at a zoo. By and by they struck up a friendship and took to conversation in their spare time. Once bored of looking at the endless stream of passing visitors, the giraffe peeped into lions cage and asked:
G: Hi Brother, Busy?
L: No just resting after my meal. Since the time these keepers have stopped giving me cow meat my system has gone haywire. I am thinking of asking our visitors to choose different leaders than the current ones. The current set are not even sparing the animal kingdom from imposing their cultural choices.
G: Brother, talking of leadership, you have always been our undisputed leader in the jungle. I hear these humans define leadership very differently.
L: Yes they do. In our case, the alpha, that is me, based on his aggression and physical strength is the leader. He gets the lion’s share of everything, if you know what I mean. In their case though, they value taking people along as the leadership trait. One of the sayings they have is ”if you are leading and no body is following you, you are merely taking a walk”.
G: This is what confuses me about them. There is so much talk about what is it being a leader.
L: Since I am leader in my realm so I have studied their domain as well. I think there is a very clear way of defining a human leader. Firstly no one is born a leader it is an acquired trait. Secondly since it is not a character attribute like we have in animal kingdom so it is a functional role that they play.
G: Brother you are confusing me. Remember I am not smart as you are. Can you tell me in simpler language.
L: You have such a long neck but such a narrow reach. Ha ha ha. Ok let me simplify. See leadership in humans is essentially about other people following you. Hence there are three areas that a leader has to look into. First is the self, second is the team and third is the goal.
Now being a human leader is not about strength but character hence you have to be sure of the values that you embody. Clarity and adherence to a set of values thus is mandatory as that sets the example that others can trust.
Secondly, a leader has to carefully select a capable team to help him/her manage the situations. The team should ideally have a complimentary skill set however in terms of values they must be aligned with the leader. Also the leader must be able to energize the team repeatedly through all situations. Importantly leader while leading others should be able to deal with dissent. Their will always be people who will challenge his values or his powers and the leader must know how to deal with them.
Giraffe: Excellent analysis brother. You are a master of brawn as well as brains. What about the goal that you mentioned earlier. How do leaders score it?
Lion: A human leader must lead the followers to something, so s/he must select a meaningful and win-win goal for his people. The goal must have personal and collective meaning for everyone. Secondly s/he should define the strategic roadmap of how the journey to that destination be undertaken. For this however s/he can solicit team’s or external help.
So overall, a human leader must lead his people by selecting the goal and the team and then walking along with them.
Giraffe: Brother are leaders common in humans. Are there many of them?
Lion: Unfortunately No. Leadership like meditation is simple, but never easy as humans are often tricked by selfishness of their own nature. So there are many who want to be, many who claim to be however there are only a handful who get to be a leader.