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What Makes a Leader?

This is something I originally posted on a less formal blog a bit over a year ago. I’ve been reminded of various leadership abilities over the past few weeks and feel it’s worth bringing up again. Since this post I’ve assumed a leadership role in becoming captain of my soccer team for two seasons (going on three now) and in a few other less formal  ways. My original posting had a number of comments…I hope this post inspires some deep thoughts and dialog…

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As I sat soaking my two pulled hamstrings today, I reflected on the wedding I attended last night and it brought up an interesting question:

What makes a leader?

As I thought about that, I pondered back to my life over the past few months, the past few years, and further. For the most part, I never really thought of myself as a leader, yet when I think back to different events and situations that I’ve been in I realize that people have looked to me as a leader. It’s an interesting thought, especially given the fact “leader” can have so many meanings to different people.

Think back to high school. Who were the “leaders” back then? Was it the popular people? The smart kids? The jocks?

Now think back to college. Again, who would you have looked up to as leaders? The president of your fraternity/sorority? Captain of the football team? Someone like Van Wilder?

Post college…same question. Your boss? Some random Joe you hang out with? Your superior in the military?

Just because someone is your boss, does that really make them an effective leader? In my opinion, no. A leader to me is someone who can effectively rally the troops and get the job done…be it a football game, a task at work, getting the group together for a night on the town. Does one train to be a leader or is it a natural ability? Or both? Think of people in your life that you would consider a leader. What is it about them that has you thinking that? Is it the way they carry themselves? The words they speak? Their energy level or “can do” attitude? Perhaps a bit of coercion through fear? 

Who are the leaders in your life? What draws you to them and has you following their lead?