Leadership begins in three ways:
- when a person is dissatisfied with the present,
- when a person aspires to a better future, and
- when both dissatisfaction and aspiration compel that person to make change happen.
Leaders are born every day because they can no longer live in the status quo. They are desperate for change. They start leading when they can no longer wait for a hero to save them from their miserable situation. They do something they’ve not done before – and that’s what makes them leaders.
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Even if they are not sure of what’s to come, as long as they get the chance to leave their prison, they’ll lead. If even they don’t have previous experiences in leadership, they’ll lead. And along the way, they’ll learn how to lead.
Every day, a Spartacus is born.
But not everyone hates where they are. Often, people are comfortable with the status quo – because the status quo is suitable to them.
In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins claimed that good is the enemy of great. And this is very true in most situations.
Slaves hate their lot. But the white masters were comfortable with being the slave owners. This is why until now, there are white supremacists. They want it easy. They advance the wrong belief that being born white makes them superior to others. They don’t need a brain to believe that.
But some are not comfortable having slaves because they dream of a society where all human beings have rights. They inspire people to embrace a future much better than the status quo. This is not easy, of course. Remember, George Washington found it challenging to free all his slaves, though he fought against slavery.
The dream is not always unreal. Often, the dream is already real somewhere else. And new leaders are born, so the vision, their promised land, becomes real. You can think of Rizal this way. He was not looking for the independent Philippines; he wants Filipinos to have equal rights as the Spaniards. Not revolutionary, but the reformist offered his life to the cause.
And you have the third kind. These leaders don’t want to continue the status quo, they seek better alternatives, and when they can not find them, they create a new one.
Call them innovators. They are leaders who recognize the problems, own them, and found ways to make the change. You can call them social entrepreneurs. They create new realities politicians failed to consider. Understand that most politicians are comfortable where they are.
Leadership begins in dissatisfaction, i nspiration, or both.
What makes you a leader?