Today, a fable:
There once was a man who went on a quest to become a leader. High and low, near and far, he journeyed.
He tried to sound authoritative when he spoke. Some people listened, while others did not. People did not follow him however. Always it seemed, there was someone who was wiser, more charismatic, more inspired.
He tried to take on air of confidence and pride, but people would simply pass him by, hardly noticing.
To gain their attention, he pointed and waved, spoke loudly and asserted that he knew the way to greatness. Alas, no one listened. He was alone; no one followed.
Dejected to the point of giving up on his quest, he sat and questioned his motives for a long time.
And then he began to listen. As he did, he realized there were many voices to learn from. He put aside his agenda and found that the group had something they were trying to accomplish.
He decided to join them in their efforts. As he rolled his sleeves up and joined in their work, he took pride in the group effort and thought to himself how good it felt to be part of a project where all were working together for a common goal.
A transformation was taking place within his very being. He was amazed to find himself encouraging those who were wary. He sought input from those too shy to come forward with their ideas. He helped to teach those who had few skills and praised those who worked hard.
And when the task was completed, one of the group turned to him and said, “We would not have been successful had it not been for your leadership.”
Initially, the man said, “I didn’t lead. I worked hand-in-hand with all of you.” It was at that moment that he understood: leadership is not a goal to be attained. Instead, it is a way to reach a goal.
As the years went by, he learned this lesson many times over—leaders lead best when they help others get to where the group decides they need to go.
Can you offer any examples of how you have helped others accomplish goals that all have bought into?