TODAY -

But are they real leaders ?

Mingyashin Shaiza *



“Real leadership is not about prestige, power or status. It is about responsibility.”
- Robert L Joss, businessman, banker, and former university administrator.

There are an abundance of people we call leaders, but are they a real leader? As it is rightly quoted by Robert L Joss, leadership is not about position. Anyone could be in the lowest position but he or she could be a great leader. To be a leader, one has to be courageous.

One has to be willing to sacrifice even to the point of sacrificing his precious life. If you have a leader who sits at his high chair, not sacrificing a thing but gives order and expects it to be done, wants everyone to greet him and treat him in the best way possible. He is an authority, not a leader.

Simon Sinek, British-American author and inspirational speaker, talks about an incident where a marine let his men eat first and was left with no food to eat. So, later back in the camp, some of his men came and gave him some of their food. That’s how real leaders are. They will be the first and at the front during danger but he will see to the needs of others first before his own.

Think of the people we call our leaders. Will they see to it that our needs are met first or will they take for themselves and give the remaining to us?

Here are a couple of stories of a true leader -

Leadership through compassion - Lady Diana
In the 1980s, AIDS arrived on the world stage. It was a new, frightening disease with no cure and was rampaging through communities and countries. People believed that you could catch AIDS from touching someone who had it, or even sitting on the same toilet seat. Sufferers were shunned, and up to 50 per cent of people polled in the US, believed that those with AIDS should be quarantined.

On the 19th April, 1987, Princess Diana, one of the most famous people in the world, opened the first unit in the UK dedicated to treating people with HIV and AIDS. During her visit, she shook the hands of a patient without wearing gloves, and changed people’s perceptions of the disease forever.

Leadership through camaraderie – Luis Urzúa, foreman of 33 men trapped in a Chilean mine for 70 days
In 2010, a collapse at the San Jose copper-gold mine in northern Chili trapped 33 men 700 metres underground. Foreman Luis Urzúa immediately recognised the seriousness of the accident and took charge, organising the men for a long-term survival situation and helping them cope mentally with the situation.

He made detailed maps of the area to help with the rescue effort and co-ordinated closely with engineers on the surface. He was the last man to be rescued and remained cool and calm under the pressure, merely remarking ‘It’s been a bit of a long shift...’ (www.roffeypark.ac.uk)

Simon asked a three-star general in Marine who’s in charge of all Marine Corps training officer - What makes Marines so good at what they do? And he answered simply “officers eat last”

In his book “Leaders eat last”, Simon described, “If you visit any chow hall in any Marine base anywhere in the world what you will see when they eat at chow time is that all the Marines will line up in rank order. The most junior Marine will always eat first, the most senior Marine will always eat last. No order is given, there is no rule that says they will have to do this and nobody tells them they have to.

It’s one of the funny ways that it manifests when we see their perspective on leadership how it shows up - it’s just one of the funny ways it shows up because they view leadership as a responsibility, not as a rank. It’s not about being in charge, it's about taking care of those in your charge. That’s what leadership really is and the Marines embody it as a culture and it’s sort of kind of amazing to see actually.”

These great leaders and heroes who put their lives first to save others, when asked, “Why would you do it? Or why did you do it?”. They all said the same thing, “Because they would have done it for me”. “When we feel safe amongst our own, the natural reaction is trust and cooperation” - Simon Sinek

Leaders create an environment of trust and cooperation in their organization or place. And trust and cooperation doesn’t come with instruction, it is a feeling.

He also mentioned that the analogy of leadership is like parenting. Parents will never throw out their kids when they don’t have their needs. They will find a way to provide for the family.

“What makes a great parent? Great parents are willing to sacrifice, give up themselves, discipline when necessary, provide opportunities, provide education, all so that their young little thing can grow and achieve more than they ever could for themselves.

What makes a great leader? A great leader is willing to sacrifice, give up themselves, discipline when necessary, provide confidence, give them the opportunity to try and fail, pull them all up so that the people achieve more than they could imagine for themselves”.

Being a leader is not about idly sitting and giving orders. It’s not about doing the things they like. To be a leader you have to have courage. You have to be able to take the plunge knowing full well that it could harm you and you could lose a lot. Still you do it. If you are not willing to do that, think again, are you really a leader?

I have seen some good leaders. I’ve seen them get down on their knees and get their hands dirty. They give us a sense of trust. I’ve seen leaders who make us feel safe and secure. I know, even now, that when any harm comes they will be right there taking incharge and making sure that everything is well. When we are with a leader we trust and feel safe in, we can feel secure because we know that he will never throw us under the bus

. Here are some questions for you to think about -

Do you think your leaders believe the words they say? Or are they merely saying it because people want to hear it? Does your leader make you feel safe? Do you have a leader who sees that others eat first and he eats last?

Where is your leader during a crisis? Is he there with the people to make sure each and everyone is safe? or Is he the first one to get to safety?

Will your leader be there for you no matter how bad things get?

Do you trust your leader?

Well, if you have never considered your leaders based on these questions, it’s time to wake up and ask yourself whom you are entitling a leader.


* Mingyashin Shaiza wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 04 2022.



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