Friday, August 19, 2011

Leaderless leaders and followless followers

By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- In communities, cities, counties, states and nations there are leaders. We see them in churches, schools, businesses, in city and county government as well as in states and nations. Where there is no leader to follow, there is a lack of direction, purpose and goals.

President Harry S. Truman understood the meaning of leadership and defined the real leader as "A man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do and like it." Leon Tolstoy called the leader "The wave pushed ahead by the ship." The leader is the person who has already done what he wants everybody else to do. Beware of leaderless leaders. They are dangerous.

Donald McGannon noted that leadership is "Action, not position." The position can be bought, stolen or ruthlessly acquired, but eventually it becomes evident that no leadership qualities exist. It takes more than loud boastful talk or a controlled public relations campaign to produce a leader.

Being called a leader is far from being one. Arrogance, ignorance, lack of passion and unconcern will stymie any attempt to lead. During my brief life, I have seen this scenario played out many times and usually ending in unnecessary disaster. Large churches have been reduced in a short time to near nothingness because of an unqualified pastor. A thriving business, with poor leadership, can be led quickly to bankruptcy. A great school in the hands of an ignorant educator will soon be only a memory. A state or nation led by unqualified and arrogant leaders at the top will crumple in defeat and disgrace.

For every successful leadership, there must be quality followship. A leader is no better than those who will go with him. A follower is a supporter, adherent, disciple, member, devotee, fan and a believer in what the leader wants to accomplish. Leadership is no better than followship.

An exciting Jewish story in the Old Testament is about Saul being chosen as the first king of Israel. For the background and context of this story, that reminds all of us of some of the things happening to many nations in our day, it would be wise and extremely interesting to read in their entirety chapters eight through twelve of First Samuel. Underscore these words which account for King Saul's success and that of any leader, "And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched" (1 Samuel 10:26).

No leader has much of a chance of success with a team of anything less than valiant men and women giving intelligent, wise and courageous support. I recall hearing a newly elected senator speak to a select group of the country's leaders as he expressed his concern for the nation. "The thing that surprised me most about being in the Senate is the large number of second and third rate people who are members of that body."

Churches, businesses, schools, counties, states and nations are no better than the men and women who are elected to be leaders.

If we continue to do as we have been doing, we will continue to receive what we have been receiving. And that has brought us to the brink of disaster.

Nothing tottering on the cusp of insanity in leadership and followship can be expected to survive very long. We are the only one of the world's great civilizations still standing. Our present status is shaky. We must do better, a lot better, immediately, if we continue to survive as the strong and prosperous nation we have been for 235 years. We must, as a people and nation, make that choice. Nobody else or any other country can decide for us. We decide very soon. Our days are numbered.


Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

For information on becoming a subscriber to the Ellis Column for your newspaper or magazine, you may contact him at: BILL ELLIS, P.O.Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560 or by calling: 304-757-6089.

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