The anatomy of a great leader
October 5, 2014
OPINION By LEANN AKINS
Every great leader has certain qualities or characteristics which make them a great leader; great leaders have a certain make-up which allows them to lead fearlessly, with graciousness, and with strength. But where do these qualities come from? Are they learned or are they inherent? This brings us to the question of is a leader made or born? Well, maybe it’s a combination of both. All great leaders have specific traits, some maybe cultivated or practiced, while others are natural and just need to be refined. Here are some things to consider when determining if our current leadership is the kind of leadership in a local, state, and national setting we would like to have represent us and have our interests at heart.
The mind of every leader must be honed to act and think deliberately, methodically, and as a problem-solver. The leaders’ mind must understand that their words and actions mean something to the people they are leading. The leader’s mind must operate from a position of understanding and a willingness to reach a deeper understanding, rather than gloss over issues on the surface. A leader must also understand their purpose. If they misunderstand their purpose, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader must have ears which actively listen to what people are saying. Actively listening to people means that you make meaning of those words, you connect it with your current knowledge, and you take it into consideration. A leader who actively listens will not be dismissive. A leader who actively listens will hear what people say and use what they hear to better the group. If a leader cannot hear or listen to the people, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs to have strong shoulders to carry the burdens of touch decisions. The leader cannot shove the burden from themselves onto others, nor does a strong leader attempt to do this. A leader also needs strong arms to do the heavy lifting when required. A leader cannot expect the people to bear the burden alone—a leader has to be part of the team who works to lift the burden and works to mitigate the burden. If a leader cannot take up the burden of the people, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs legs. The leader’s legs need to not only walk the path the people they lead walk, but need to stand strong a firm when it matters most. The leader cannot be seen running the other direction when thing become difficult. The leader’s legs cannot waiver or buckle under pressure. If a leader cannot walk with their people, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs a tongue that is not afraid to speak out or have tough conversations. The leader’s tongue also has to be willing to talk with and not at the people the leader leads. If the leader’s tongue cannot follow these necessary guidelines, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs a heart. The heart of the leader needs to be one where it loves to serve the people, not their own interests. The heart of a true leader has deep convictions and a moral guidepost. A strong leader knows that are here to be a servant, not a benevolent dictator. If a leader does not have a pure heart, or the heart of a leader, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs hands. The leader’s hands need to be willing to work, get dirty while working, and ultimately be used for the people’s sakes, not their own. The leader’s hands must work to show that they are not just there to tell people what to do, but to work alongside of the people regardless of the task at hand. If a leader cannot work alongside the people, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs feet. The leader’s feet must be able to take issues and solutions to the people. The leader’s feet must take the leader to the people so they can gather questions, concerns, and knowledge in order to not rely on their own understanding. If a leader only relies on their own understanding, they will not be a strong leader.
A leader needs a soul. The leader’s soul ultimately determines how the leader is going to lead. Whether they use their position for good or evil and whether they serve the people or themselves. The leader’s soul will guide them through their time in office and will become very apparent when there are hard issues to solve and ethical dilemmas to face. If a leader does not have a soul built on the other qualities, they will not be a strong leader.
Our communities, states, and nation deserve leaders who are strong leaders. We have people who are currently making large sweeping promises, but what we truly need is people are not afraid to lead. Promises are not always kept, but actions can always back up language. It is time for all American’s to vote for leaders who back up their language with actions, actions which will truly make a difference in our lives, rather than only impact their own.
LeAnn Akins is an educator and a resident of Arroyo Grande.