Mark Twain has been credited with saying, "Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." (Actually, there is evidence that some guy named Charles Dudley Durant used first it in an editorial for the Hartford Courant, but since he and Twain were good friends, Twain may have "borrowed" it a time or two.)
At any rate, the same applies to leadership. We talk about it all the time in relationship to government, business, even our own lives. Maybe one reason no one ever does anything about it is that we don't know what it is.
It's like the church conference where they were to vote on installing a new chandelier in the dark foyer. They had discussed the issue ad nauseum (as is typical in most churches, at least Baptist!) when the moderator decided to ask the opinion of the oldest and most revered member of the church, who had been listening intently (or perhaps sleeping - no one could really tell which). "Brother Bob, what do you think about us buying a new chandelier?"
"Well," said Brother Bob, rousing himself to attention. "I don't think much of the idea. First off, we can't spell it. And if we had one, no body could play it. And besides, what we really need is more light out yonder in the foyer!"
When it comes to leadership, we are a lot like Brother Bob. We're not really sure what we're talking about.
But it isn't really all that much of a mystery. It you think about it, leadership is really nothing more than influence - over people. All people we think of as being great leaders have enormous influence. Sometimes, that influence comes from the power of authority. But the strongest and most effective leadership comes from "moral" authority, a concept that is fast fading from our society.
The most effective leaders claim the moral highground. They live lives that reflect what they say. They lead from the strength of being right, not from being strongest. Water will flow downhill, even if it is politically incorrect to claim such an absolute. As the old margerine commerical says, "You can't fool Mother Nature" though many of us try.
There's no question but what the world needs more "high ground" leaders. The good news is that such leadership can be learned. There is a moral basis for great leadership but there are techniques as well. More about this in later blogs.