Great Leaders Ignite Hope
by Jay Pullins
In our western culture, sometimes we can confuse celebrity with leadership. It's not hard to do. After all, celebrities and leaders are similar in some respects.
Leaders and celebrities are both often people we admire in some way, for some reason. Often it is because of their extraordinary talent. We may be in awe of the things they do, perhaps better than anyone else we've ever seen. Their abilities may even inspire us to improve our own skills.
But, for the most part, we don't see celebrities as everyday people like us. They're exceptional, meaning it's rare to find someone who can do what they do. Often, they've earned that celebrity status through dedication to their craft and plenty of hard work, or maybe extensive training. Sometimes, they are rare people because their abilities come more naturally to them than to most people. Sometimes they are more educated, more qualified, or have more credentials than most people.
Sometimes, but not always, that kind of celebrity also happens to be a great role model. Beyond just their talents, their life has qualities worth imitating. They use their talents to benefit others, not just themselves.
This is where the path of leaders diverges from the path of pure celebrities. While the focus of celebrity is on self, the focus of leaders is on others. While celebrity culture says, "Look at me," leadership culture says, "Look at YOU."
While celebrities gain more followers, leaders are busy making more leaders. While celebrities make what they do look hard, leaders try their best to make what they do look easy, so that others can learn to do it too.
While celebrities focus on being the best, accomplishing what no one else could, leaders focus on bringing out the best in others.
The most important gift a leader can give to those they lead is hope — hope for a better future, hope for better successes, hope that they can accomplish what they put their mind to. If we are true role models, people must believe it's possible for them to someday fill our role.
There comes a time in our leadership journey when we see the opportunity to be more than the hero of our own story, but to make more heroes. We transition from focusing on our own successes to focusing on the success of others. We care less about their hope in us and more about their hope in themselves.
Food for thought: How have role models in your life ignited hope? Have you told them how they have influenced you to grow or move forward with hope?