“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” — The Bible The reality of life is “every man for himself”. We are taught as we grow up that a man lives alone, dies alone and must face the consequences of his actions alone. This outlook on life is bleak and nihilistic. It negates the collective good and the pack mentality of the humans. But in practicality, the theory rings true.
Regardless of religious affiliations, every theological group agrees that free choice is granted to every human and the choices made with human conscientiousness and morals have consequences. This simple fact of life makes every man the leader of his own life, if not of others. Leading sounds grand. It is always accompanied by a grand vision like Dr. King leading the charge for reforms or a raised fist challenging what is unjust. The reality is simpler and a bit underwhelming. Leadership is recognizing the responsibility for what it is, where it lies, and how to fulfil it successfully. The first person everyone owes a responsibility is himself. What we owe to other is our next set of responsibilities.
One needs to be an effective leader to lead a fulfilling life, even if no other responsibilities weigh on one’s shoulders. Leading oneself is easy, why must one lead others? Why must there be a leader in every group? The answer is very simple. Conflict resolutions and knowledge vacuum leads to power imbalance among different members of a community. An effective leader, be it the head of a family, the leader of a group project, the city council member, the president of a country, or the leader of a pack, makes sure the power imbalance does not cause the exploitation of any member under their leadership.
Leadership comes naturally to some, just as caring for those around you comes naturally to more people. The instinct to protect, nurture, and care for those near you is as old as the creation of man. The instinct to lead them and yourself to a better future, to better prospects, to a better world is what makes the leaders stand out. One must be a leader not covet power, but to empower others in whatever capacity. Becoming a leader does not mean becoming someone you fundamentally are not. The idea of what a leader isn’t universal in the real world. The “right” leader is right for the specific place, time, and situation in which he or she is placed, and not necessarily for all places, times, and situations. The right leader is, however, one who inspires many leaders in their niches.
The right leader takes responsibility and shoulders the workload. If you take control of that assignment you have been delaying working on, you are well on your way to becoming a leader of your domain! “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” -Simon Sinek