What is a Leader?


For the longest time in my life, this is a question that has always bothered me, I have been looking for the answer for so long without getting any closure. You find when I was in Lower Six, a few friends of mine and I started the school newspaper club, this is in 1999 when we had to write down the articles on paper, ask one of the day scholars to take the articles to town and get someone to type the articles for us. To pay the typist we had to organise cake sales and host a few functions to sustain the project financially. I was at the forefront of this and I loved it, because it was our thing. Then, when I was in Upper 6, I was given a leadership role that I didn’t understand because I was one of the smallest girls that one could find in any room (how I miss those days). I played this role as best as I could but there was one question that bothered me, “Why did they choose me?”

After I got over the romance reading phase, I went on a fact finding mission to find out what makes a leader so I got into a motivational reading phase. I read a lot of motivational books far and wide until I eventually got to the phase where there were diminishing returns to the time invested. And then, I just stopped reading motivational books, I got done. Yes, I don’t read anything other than text books, goes against all the advice that people of substance read, but I made a choice. You can read my article on why I don’t read motivational books anymore here.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’

John Quincy Adams

Then a few days ago, the question as to what is a leader was raised on one of the platforms I am on called Connections2Communities. This brought back a question that has been bothering me for a good twenty years. What is a leader? And then it was suggested that I should consider writing an article about it. For a good week, I had nothing to write because I still felt that I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Then it was suggested to me that people tend to have more confidence in a person who knows what they are doing and follow a person who knows where they are going. So without looking for any deep intricate explanation, that answer was simplified to this example, when people get to an unknown territory, they follow the person who knows the lay of the land.

By nature, we are a specie that love comfort, we don’t want to leave our comfort zones, we love security (Maslow can corroborate) and whenever we feel that we are in an uncomfortable position or don’t feel safe, we naturally look for that which restores us back to factory settings. And anyone who will tell us the direction to go, the vision of how we are going to leave this uncomfortable zone, have a strong voice and act like they believe what they are talking about, we naturally define that as our leader.

This might not be a fact, but I am quite comfortable to believe that I might have found the answer to my question.

I have found closure.

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