There are many definitions or perceptions of what leadership is. When we mention the word “leadership”, people understand it differently. So on the outset, I hope to make something clear — I am deeply passionate about leadership, but a very particular type.
I think this type is best summarised by a single sentence in Frank Herbert’s novel “dune”, when speaking about the duke, Liet-Kynes said, quoting from the book:
“A leader such as that would command fanatic loyalty.“
(As a side note, though fictional, I have found that novel particularly insightful on the topic of rulership and leadership.)
There is the general public perception of leaders; politicians who straddle a precarious line, business dictators who speak but don’t listen, economists who game the system for maximum gain and who don’t care about the consequences. These are not leaders, or at least not the leaders I’m talking about.
A leader is one who can command fanatic loyalty in the most positive sense of that phrase.
A true leader is one who would sacrifice his life for the lives of his followers. A chief who would stick out his neck for the survival of his tribe. They are a paradoxical blend between personal humility and professional will. They eat last. They understand the true principle of self-aggrandisement: that is, the only way to aggrandise yourself is via service to others, exalting and ennobling them.
True leaders are innately paradoxical; I believe this is the case because they are able to strike certain balances that are so profound, so complete, that they seem to be a paradox. How could someone blend humour and solemnity in such a flawless manner? Isn’t incredible how they balance being close to (indeed willing to die for) those who follow them, and yet they also maintain a certain paradoxical distance? How is it that they can be so incredibly decisive and yet immensely thoughtful?
This section of my blog is dedicated to my personal journey of attempting to understand that kind of leadership at a deeper level. It is profound and fascinating ground to walk on. The picture is never complete, but it may contain sub-pictures (individual articles or collections of coherent thoughts) that are complete. However it’s important to understand that no single story explains the entirety of great leadership. Similar to how no particular painting perfectly exemplifies the idea of ‘art” — many great artworks contain notable features, but no single one absolutely “art”. There is much we can learn from various stories of leadership but it’s important to be qualified and to understand that it is in the aggregate that these principles contain great value.
Recent articles I’ve written on the topic of leadership are shown below: