If you are serious about your study of leadership, I highly recommend reading Barbara Kellerman’s book, “Leadership: Essential Selections on Power, Authority and Influence”.
Kellerman has curated some of the best writing ever about leadership, from the Greeks to the Eastern Philosophers, to enlightenment writers through contemporary writers.
I’m currently reading two of the Eastern selections. The writing from Confucius’ Analects struck me:
1.16 The Master said: “Don’t worry if people don’t recognize your merits; worry that you may not recognize theirs.”
Western society is busy teaching children to recognize their own “specialness” through school programs, music, art and media but we have neglected teaching them to recognize the value of others.
Our obsession with individuality has perhaps lead us to forget that we are essentially social creatures. In fact, leadership is a social act between two or more people. Good leaders not only recognize the merits of others, they bring out the best in others.
I’ve had bosses who have encouraged me, been confident in my abilities and challenged me to do better. Their high standards helped bring out the best in me. Those bosses who were entirely focused on themselves and their careers did not encourage and support me. I didn’t work as hard for them, since they didn’t care enough about me to bring out my best.
Leadership isn’t about leaders, it is about bringing about the best in those who follow. Leadership isn’t anything new. Confucius wrote about it in 225 BC. So why is it so hard to learn?
Source: Kellerman, Barbara. “Leadership: Essential Selections on Power, Authority and Influence. McGraw Hill. 2010.