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I see a lot of posts about leadership. Simple comments on what it means to be a leader in today’s business environment. They almost always seem to dig at current leadership styles more than they attempt to inspire. They almost always seem to be used to reaffirm current positions and beliefs about what it means to be a leader.
Surely we do not need to quote Simon Sinek to believe we should listen to others. Would it mean more coming from the Dalai Lama if we heard that compassion and kindness matter? How is it revolutionary to suggest we put our phones away when we are engaged in conversation? With our teammates? With anyone?
Leaders should have integrity. We all should have integrity. Leaders should have a moral compass. We all should have a moral compass. Honesty, respect for all living things, love, gratitude, and empathy. Each one, for both leaders, and for all.
Who are the leaders in your life? Who really turns your crank when it comes to inspiration and motivation?
The only thing that separates the good leaders from the bad leaders, in my very small book, is easily detected and often overlooked. Leaders motivate. “The bastards”, that Kris Kristofferson sings about, manipulate. Easy peasy. Motivation verses manipulation. Personally, I have become a problem for those that try to manipulate. I have little desire to play games. Life is short, there are bigger and better goals to be achieved, and spirits need not be crushed to achieve success.
In the words of Kristofferson, I am trying to tell the truth and stand my ground. At the same time, I’m trying not to let the bastards get me down.
JFK, MLK, Malcom X, Gandhi, and many others, were leaders. All killed in cold blood. Bob Dylan, the aforementioned Kris Kristofferson, Bono and U2,  and even Ozzy Osbourne, fared a little better, by burying their messages in song. They are all leaders. Good ones in my opinion.
Dangerous? Yes. Better than me? Of course. Have they affected more of the world than I will ever see? Another resounding yes. There is a difference in leading and “towing the line”. There is a difference in being a leader only when the spotlight shines down, and every day creating light in the world. Light… regardless of how dim or bright it may be.
While those musicians, and so many others, started with three chords and the truth, others start with social media, blog posts, and quiet responses to pointed questions. They begin with the telling of stories. Sometimes, stories are even told, “out of class”.
Leaders do not scurry about when the kitchen light is turned on. Leaders do not scramble to find footholds when the world is crumbling around them. What leaders do is go within, to affect the world without, in some positive way. And the funny thing is, the withstanding of lights and the securing of footholds are not created in an instance. Not with a meme or the reading of a New York Times best seller.
They are created over time.
They are instilled by choice.
Their deeds are made known by others and not the puffing out of chests when conflict comes.
There are leaders who lead from mountaintops. There are leaders who lead in remote areas of desolate places. Some leaders speak truth, while some leaders choose to promote chaos. Bob Dylan sang, “don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters.”
Seems like sound advice.
One thing a leader does not need is a follower. Nothing about followers make a woman or a man a leader. Also, a leader does not need a perfect past. Often, a storied past inspires more than it deters. Leaders do not need websites either, but they come in handy from time to time.
When my stories are read to my grandchildren, I hope they are proud. When my children watch as I fight giants, my joy will come if they thought that, in some way, I did it for their good.
This certainly is not a manifesto. This certainly is not some proving ground for what I consider to be truth. has always been about helping others. For the better part of my time on earth, I have been about the same. When it comes to leadership, I would rather go down working for others than to be propped up and alone.
The face of leadership is changing in this world. Let’s see if we can shape it into something for which to be proud. My world is about to become your world also. What else could it be but that. Stay strong. Stay observant. Do what is right. And give yourself a break. We are all doing our best in a difficult time.
You are a leader, even if of only one.
Happy Friday.
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Author: Kevin Thompson

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