In every facet of the world, there have been magnificent leaders. Leaders of ideals, leaders of beliefs, leaders of countries, religions, states, orders, governments, congregations, and businesses. Even in our earliest years, going back to kindergarten, leaders made themselves known on the playground, in class, during practice, during rehearsal, and even at the lunch table.
Leadership is an elusive quality that seems to be innate to some and nearly impossible for others.
Can leadership be taught? Similar to the question, can you truly teach creativity?
I believe leadership has many ancillary qualities, but there is one quality in particular upon which all of those other pillars stand.
The 1 trait all great leaders share in common is the fact that they do not wait for others to follow them.
That, after all, is true leadership.
The moment you think to yourself, "I am the leader here. They should all be listening to me," you are no longer a true leader. As soon as you have to flash your badge or remind those below you of your position, you are no longer a true leader.
Leadership is not a throne upon which you sit.
Leadership is a stone you are the first to carry.
This is where so, so many aspiring leaders go wrong. They have it in their minds that there is a destination they must reach, a number they must hit, a title they must wear, and then they will be taken seriously, followed, and declared "the leader."
It is actually the opposite.
The "destination" is right here, right now. The reward of having people follow you begins the moment you accept the nearest burden, and are the first to pick it up and begin moving it. Your action, then, will inspire the next person to help, which will inspire the next, and the next.
Great leaders, then, are the first to make the move. They do not thrust commands down unto others and wait to see whether they are obeyed. That is not leadership.
No, a leader knows that whether it is 10,000 people following them, or 1,000, or 100, or 10, or 1, or 0, regardless, they will be the first to take action--and as a result, others will follow.
Without this trait, no amount of posturing or decorations or consignment will paint you into the leader you aspire to be.
If you want to be a leader, lead by example.