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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Follow The Leader

  Football coaching great Vince Lombardi once said, "Great leaders are made, they are not born...". Most of us have been fortunate enough in our lives to meet and interact with someone that we not only consider a great leader, but we also know that they did not arrive at that position instantaneously. Maybe we know something of their lives, who their parents were, where and under what conditions they were brought up.
  Recently, Fortune Magazine compiled a list entitled, "The World's 50 Greatest leaders". It is quite an extensive list. It is made up of people from all over the Globe, from every background, from every walk of life. They are businessmen and women, religious leaders, even rock stars.
  Top of the list is Pope Francis. Almost a no-brainer, he is the leader of approximately 700 million Catholics around the world. Some might go as far as to say that he is a bit of a free spirit . He has addressed issues that the Church appears to have been trying to push under the rug for quite some time. He even recently told Mafia leaders to cease their murderous ways.
  Bono, front man for one of the world's most popular rock bands, U2, comes in at number eight. Not only is Bono an accomplished musician and singer, he has been a tireless advocate for AIDS relief and research, and helping impoverished nations. One of the most deserving to be on this list, 16 year old Malala Yousafzai. In October of 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban as she got off a school bus. In spite of this, she continues to be an outspoken champion of education for girls and women in Islamic countries. An activity that can be life threatening in that region of the world.
  The rest on the list, certainly are deserving members of this elite club for all of their contributions. But these three people, who could not be more different, have developed very similar traits of leadership. Those tasked with the formulation of this list at Fortune Magazine are Americans. As citizens of this country, what was it that stood out to them about this group of people that made them want to bring them together on this list?
  Maybe the most common reason for most of these people is that they became leaders out of necessity. For some, it could simply be that they saw a need for leadership and fulfilled it. Most of these folks are not household names, and that is perfectly OK with them. They did not become leaders to be famous. Some are leaders because they saw something that was ignored, neglected, or just not right. Do the people on this list have a drive, a passion that everyday people do not? Were some just in the right place at the right time? The answer could be yes for some. However, the 50 greatest leaders would most likely be the first to tell you just how ordinary they are.
  The answer just might be that there is no definitive answer. People are moved to action by what they see and feel in different ways. Maybe the one common thread is, they are all willing to think beyond the norm. They are all willing to step outside the box. They are all willing to risk quite a lot, if not all, for what they believe and for what they dream.
  Americans seem to have an uncanny knack for spotting leaders. Maybe that is because we have produced so many among us. The Americans who work at Fortune Magazine saw many things that jumped out at them about the special people on this list. In a world where it seems that so many people are so easily led, let's hope that Coach Lombardi was right.       

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