Leadership is very dependent on support of others.
Second to Number 1
In researching this topic, it was pretty easy to find material on leadership. I referenced a few books and articles in researching this speech: "The Leadership Challenge" by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"; among others. The one common thread in all of these books is team work. Patrick Lencioni from his book, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team", quotes "If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time."
Team work is important, but you will find that in most leadership positions, there is usually only one person that a leader will heavily rely on to keep the wheels moving. This is the person who is actually closest to the leader and who in some cases may even be in line for the leadership position. These are the ones who carry out the details related to the strategic vision of the leader. Their role is usually one of support and advisement.
They are very important because over time they have gained the trust and confidence of the leader. The leader has learned to rely on this person to see a task to completion. As a result, the leader exhibits this reliance through delegation, empowerment, and accountability. As we will see, this has been true throughout the course of history.
First, we will look at a Biblical event from the life Moses in examining delegation. As early as biblical days, we have evidence of a leader's reliance on a trusted assistant.
Moses in the book of Exodus was wearing himself out trying to referree and settle the ethical, business, social and legal disputes of the Israelites. They were wearing him down with their problems. Everyone's problem was presented to him as the most urgent issue of the day. But his father in law, Jethro wisely advised Moses to set up judges over the people and divide the lesser disputes between them. Thus allowing him to be freed up to teach and be directly consulted on the more challenging disputes.
Second, we will examine empowerment by taking a look at the life of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela -- South African Leader and President of the African National Congress or ANC. Mandella lead the youth campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was of royal descent, educated, and groomed to one day be king of the Madeba Tribe, like his father before him. His birth name was Rolihlahla (holysasha), which means trouble maker.
One of the most remarkable facts about Nelson Mandella is how he went from royalty to obscurity and then rose through the ranks of the ANC to become president even while serving much of that time in prison.
Nelson Mandela was not actually in line to be leader for some time. As there were at least four, more qualified men with similar stature and background as Mandela, who were already recognized as leaders in the movement who would naturally have risen to be presidential contenders in the new free republic. One of these was Joe Matthews, who knew Mandela from childhood and even lived with him in Soweto for 8 months. Matthews later served as Mandela's Secretary General in the ANC.
Matthews recounts in a Dateline interview that it was in 1951 at a convention on the Campaign to End Injustices of Any Kind, where Nelson Mandela was empowered to become President.
Mandela gave a well prepared, but unanticipated speech at that dinner, in which he prophesied that he would be president of the free republic of the ANC. As we know today, this did come to pass. Those who should have been ahead of him became honored to serve under him.
Lets switch gears for a moment up until now we’ve talked about how a leader relies on their support systems to get things done. Here we will look at when the support system would not be involved.
Here are just a few people who rose to the leadership positions because the first person did not practice accountability in their leadership styles. From history we could look at Nixon, Enron, any number of dictators. Yet, I thought of this illustration from the Bible because it is from one of my favorite stories, the story of Queen Esther and greatly illustrates how there are spiritual workings behind the appointments of leaders and that leaders are held accountable to the highest authority.
1) In the book of Esther Haman was a very high official, similar to a prime minister, in the Persian King Ahasuerus’ kingdom. Mordecai was Queen Esther’s cousin and both were jews. Mordecai was very loyal to the king. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman. This infuriated Haman who, as a result of Mordecai's defiance, plotted to destroy all Jews in the kingdom. Haman was given the green light by the king, because the king had that much faith in Haman’s leadership and assumed Haman had the best interest of the kingdom in mind.
However, Mordecai encouraged Esther to seek the king’s intervention on behalf of her people. She agreed and was successful in alerting the king to Haman’s plot. By coincidence, or divine intervention, the king became aware of how Mordecai intervened to save his life but he had never been rewarded. Not long after he had the discussion with Queen Esther alerting him to Haman’s plot. As a result the king ordered that Haman be hanged on his own gallows intended for Mordecai.
So, we see that leaders must be accountable for the end result. How they get to the end result is a different matter. Some leaders believe the end outweighs the means. This is plainly evident, as we have plenty of examples of leaders who learned the hard way that is better to be ethical from the start than to compromise your morals and end up in jail or worse, dead. In any case, it is important for a leader to know his limits and to understand that true leadership values the input of wise and upright advisors.