Mr. P’s Blog pointed me towards an article in USNews about leadership. I find the subject fascinating personally because while I have ideas, I don’t have leadership qualities. I am uncomfortable in the spotlight and I lack self-confidence. You would think that realizing you don’t have self-confidence would be a step in rectifying that situation but it doesn’t seem to be true in my case.

What makes someone a leader? It can’t just be self-confidence because there are plenty of folks I have met that were oozing self-confidence but lacked the things that make me want to follow someone – imagination, compassion, creativity, honor.

Of all the leaders listed in the article, the one that I found most interesting wasn’t one person, but a group – the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

These folks who were dealing with their own personal losses due to hurricane Katrina, who had no cell phones or email to communicate with, came together no matter what their postion before the storm and kayaked, convoyed, walked and did whatever they had to to keep the paper going. They continue to do so while dealing with insurance claims, rebuilding their own homes, family members still scattered around the country and the quote at the end of the story speaks to the heart of it for me.

“Cooperation is teaching employees that they all have leadership roles to play. “Leadership is not necessarily connected to important-sounding titles,” Leadership is not necessarily a function of how smart you are. It is more correlated to impulses of courage and responsibility and accountability.”

Maybe leadership is more about people being placed into situations where their best becomes who they are.  I think leadership is also dependent upon good followers.  People have to be able to discern good leadership and be willing to give their best in whatever their position is.

We complain about our country’s leaders, our community’s leaders, and the leadership in our places of employment but if we are not willing to make the effort to be involved in every part of the process that puts these people in position and then be willing to extend support to keep them there and to keep these entities moving towards the goals that we feel are important then we lose the right to complain if those goals are not reached.

Followers are just as crucial as leaders and they have to be a partnership. I’m okay with not being a leader, but I hope I am a good follower.