Thursday, October 4, 2007


October 4, 2007 - Thursday

Current mood: blah

An excerpt from the book I am (re)reading, by John Holt:

(on leadership)
"Leaders are not what many people think- people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. 'Leadership qualities' are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly.

This is the opposite of the 'charisma' that we hear so much about. Charismatic leaders make us think, 'Oh, if only I could do that, be like that.' True leaders make us think, 'If they can do that, then by golly I can too.' They do not make people into followers, but into new leaders."

(from Teach Your Own by John Holt & Pat Farenga)

Now, John Holt wrote these words in the context of a book on homeschooling, and indeed they are very relevant when applied to teachers of all kinds. However these words are profound to me in many other contexts: for parenting in general, for instance. Parents must be leaders for their children, and this is a very clear and concise definition of what that means. Understanding true leadership qualities can be instumental in moving ahead in life, whether that means doing the best possible job at work, understanding how to achieve your dreams, or simply making yourself a better person.

Also however, it is very interesting to consider political figures under the light of what it means to be a true leader. How many political figures can you think of that "do not make people into followers, but into new leaders"? Are we looking for charisma in our elected officials, or for leadership?

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