Groups that move forward as a singular unit due to the intentional actions of a leader who identifies goals, sounds the charge, then pulls the troops forward as they follow his or her lead find greatness. When objectives are clearly defined and communicated - with responsibility and accountability assigned to individuals willing to embrace failure (and learn from it) while unselfishly sharing the praise (and rewards) that come from success, no objective is impossible – no mountain too high to climb nor valley too deep from which to rise. A group can model and assimilate the successful behavior of a leader (following his or her example) much more easily than it can take ownership of success resulting from the imposition of directives from the rear of OR from “within” the team. Rather than leading by edict, proclamation, or fear, such an individual leads by example – and those being led are ready and willing to follow (sharing either recognition for success OR corrective discussions for failure).
We must “lead, follow or get out of the way” as we move through life. Following rarely makes waves and does not produce new or innovative results but can fulfill the basic needs in society by providing security, consistency and (sometimes) rewards for those setting the goals and initiating action. Getting out of the way simply removes a barrier to success – it rarely allows one to enjoy individual rewards or accomplishments as stepping aside simply allows another to face delays or handle the disruption that obstacles placed in front of us that keep us from those things we wish to achieve (unless, of course, we were to live like geese by choreographing our decisions to accomplish great things without giving individual credit or assigning singular blame). Leading by example allows us to determine our own path – to find our own way (be it good or bad, positive or negative) as we seek to accomplish great things (either by ourselves OR with other people). One can manage from a distance, direct from within a team, OR Lead by example but can rarely do or be all three at the same time.
While it may “take a village to raise a child,” perhaps we would all be better leaders (and ultimately lead stronger teams and live better lives) if we realized it takes more than a village – it takes the cumulative efforts of many focused upon a common objective if great things are to be accomplished. A team can taste success ONLY if someone steps forward and is willing to lead (AND members of the team are willing to learn as they follow an individual they can respect). Relationships follow a similar pattern – those that are partnerships of equals that work together to accomplish shared needs (following a recognized path that takes them to a discussed and mutually beneficial destination) strengthen and grow while those that are led without sharing tend to satisfy one while frustrating the other. Effective leaders lead so that things once thought to be impossible can become everyday reality – and everyday reality will NEVER stand in the way of bringing to fruition the dreams shared by a team or within a relationship.