Leadership - Asking the Right Question
A few weeks ago, I pondered the question What or who is a Leader and then asked, "Do you consider Hitler a Leader? I didn't get many responses (either people were avoiding trick questions, or they just don't feel like commenting on my blog, or I have too few interactive readers!), but the ones who posted a comment considered Hitler to be a leader, albeit a bad one. I guess when I asked whether Hitler could be considered a leader, I framed the question wrong. Let me try again.
I believe that leadership has moral implications. That is, embedded in the definition of leadership are ethical considerations and implications that cannot be avoided. For leadership involve vision casting -- lifting people up to a higher level, and motivation -- inspiring people to go beyond themselves, to reach for and achieve the group's objectives or vision, rather than aiming for personal gain and to direct a group or community to fulfill a purpose higher than each member individually.
Perhaps another way to look at the question is to ask ourselves, "Do we consider Hitler to be a dictator? Or a tyrant? What about a manipulator?" If we say "yes" to all or even one of the previous questions, then the follow-up question is, "Can we say a dictator is a leader?" I suppose you might say, "Yes, just not a very good one." I then would like you to consider this: that leadership has moral implications such that there cannot be a bad leader. For the qualities of leadership are intrinsically good and worhty of high esteem. We may say, for instance, that a bad person may have exhibited a few of the characteristics of leadership, but by definition, we cannot say that this person is a leader.
Leadership is a quality, not a description of a rank, title or position. So, it may be true that some dictator, or despot exhibited qualities of leadership at some point in time, but in general, such people cannot be considered to be true leaders. What do you think? (Come, on now, don't be shy leave me your comments! :))