Some Final Words on Leadership

Why final words?

Because I have shared these words with the students who attended the Leadership Development Program this academic year. Earlier today,  67 LDP students got their well-deserved Certificates, attesting that they have successfully completed either Stage I or Stage II of the Program. We had a final reception to celebrate their accomplishments, to celebrate them.

We have all learned about leadership together, and we have grown as leaders, too. The time has come for some final thoughts on leadership, so let me share a part of my talk:

More than becoming a leader, strive to become a “leading”.

A “leading” what? Just about anything. A leading journalist, a leading businessman, a leading politician, a leading professor, a leading surgeon, a leading designer, a leading manager. The list can go on and on.

Whatever you do, be the leading expert in that field.

Let me expand on this.

In our day and age, leaders are many. Leadership positions are many: manager this, coordinator that, and all sorts of other titles that have some form of authority assigned to them.

But having a leadership position and being a leader are not one and the same.

I see this happening in my home region: Eastern Europe, or the post-soviet countries. We have leaders plenty, but very few are leading. We have politicians plenty, but awfully few are respected and followed. We have governing bodies full of decision-makers who have little to zero influence or authority to change things for the better or to inspire a nation. We have entrepreneurs and businessmen, but rather than inspiring hope they inspire distrust.

I can understand why some have come to equate leaders with corruption and lack of integrity, whether it is in politics, business, media, etc. Of course, I’m speaking in general terms – there are leaders who set an example, few but good ones.

Every single one of you has the potential to make a change for the better. Perhaps not by becoming a leader, but by becoming a leading.

Yes. Leading entrepreneur, leading politician, leading physician, leading writer, leading musician, leading developer, leading economist, leading farmer, and the list (again!) can go on and on.

Become the best you can be in your chosen area, pursue excellence and work hard for it. We have examples plenty to prove that this will make a difference.

Mother Teresa has never intended to become an influential leaders, but she wanted to help the poor, the sick and the dying the best way she can.

Mandela did not set out to become the President of South Africa, but he tried to be the best lawyer in order to defend his people the best way he could.

Gandhi failed to become a lawyer, yet he constantly worked on improving himself, so as to be the best example for his fellow Indians.

Einstein – not your typical leader, yet  someone who made one of the most significant contribution in the area of physics, thus shaping the mindset of generations after him.

C.S.Lewis – a “mere” writer, has inspired millions with his work, and has made in impact far greater than many leaders can dream of. He was a leading, and that also made him a leader.

We have leading examples everywhere we look: there are professors and staff at LCC who are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students because they are trying to be the best at what they do. Their advice is sought and respected, their lessons are taken to heart – how are they not leaders?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to become a leader. But more than that, strive to become a leading expert, to do your best, in whatever area you choose to work and whatever job you do.

All this being said, all I have to add is this:

Go change the world. Start where you are.

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