Posted by: coachingparents | September 15, 2009


A few weeks ago, I was a Senior Counselor at a week-long
“leadership” conference for eighth graders.  The program is called,
“Young Rotary Youth Leadership Award” or YRYLA for short.  While
there, I thought a lot about leaders, leadership and what it means to
be “a leader.”  Here are some of my thoughts.

Simply defined, a leader is a person who has followers.  The leader
deserves to have followers.  He has earned recognition.  Authority
alone is no longer enough to command respect.

The leader is a great servant.  Someone once expressed the ideal of
leadership in a democracy when he said, “and whosoever will be chief
among you, let him be your servant.”

The leader does not say, “Get going!” Instead, she says, “Let’s go!”
and leads the way.  She does not walk behind with a whip; she is out
front with a banner.  The leader assumes that her followers are
working with her, and not for her.

He considers them partners in the work and sees to it that they
share in the rewards.  He glorifies the team spirit.

The leader duplicates herself in others. She is a people builder. 
She helps her associates grow because she realizes that the stronger
people are, the stronger the organization will be.

The leader has faith in people.  He believes in them, trusts them
and thus draws out the best in them.  He has found that they rise to
his high expectations.

The leader uses her heart as well as her head.  After she has looked
at the facts with her head, she lets her heart take a look too.  She
is not only a boss, she is a friend.

The leader is a self-starter.  He creates plans and sets them in
motion.  He is a man of action, both a dreamer and a doer.

The leader has a sense of humor.  She is not a stuffed shirt.  She
can laugh at herself.  She has a humble spirit.

The leader can be led.  He is not interested in having his own way. 
He has an open mind.

The leader keeps her eyes on high goals.  She strives to make the
efforts of her followers and herself contribute to the enrichment of
personality, the achievement of more abundant living for all the
improvement of civilization…the common good.

Here is an essay by that great Greek philosopher, Anonymous.


I went on a search to become a leader.

I searched high and low.  I spoke with authority, people listened but
alas there was one who was wiser than I and they followed.

I sought to inspire confidence but the crowd responded, “Why should I
trust you?

I postured and I assumed the look of leadership with a countenance
that flowed with confidence and pride.  But many passed me by and
never noticed my air of elegance.

I ran ahead of the others, pointing the way to new heights.  I
demonstrated that I knew the route to greatness.  And then I looked
back and I was alone.

“What shall I do?” I queried.  “I’ve tried hard and used all that I

And I sat down and pondered long.

And then I listened to the voices around me.  And I heard what the
group was trying to accomplish.  I rolled up my sleeves and joined in
the work. As we worked, I asked, “Are we all together in what we want
to do and how to get the job done?”

And we thought together and we fought together and we struggled
towards our goal.

I found myself encouraging the fainthearted.  I sought the ideas of
those too shy to speak out.

I taught those who had little skill.  I praised those who worked

When our task was completed, one of the group turned to me and said,
“This would not have been done but for your leadership.”

At first I said, ” I didn’t lead, I just worked with the rest.”

And then they understood.  Leadership is not a goal.  It’s a way of
reaching a goal.

I lead best when I help others to use themselves creatively.

I lead best when I forget about myself as leader and focus on my
group.  Their needs and their goals.

To lead is to serve.  To give, to achieve together.


Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area
presented in “Practical Life Coaching” (formerly “Practical
Psychology”).  Initial coaching sessions are free.  Contact him: (970)
568-0173 or E-mail: or

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