The lowest class of leader is one who is despised – who gains authority by inheritance, position or political ruthlessness.
The next kind of leader is one who is feared – who rules with an iron hand, whose punishment and retribution is swift against those who oppose him.
The next kind of leader is one who is loved – who embraces the people and shares their joys and sorrows, who understands their plight, who is pure in heart.
But the best kind of leader is one who goes unnoticed – he doesn’t assert himself, but trusts in his peoples’ capacities and abilities and empowers them to fulfill their duties and responsibilities; his leadership creates more leaders and encourages others to participate.
This leader knows that in refusing to trust his people, he makes them untrustworthy; in refusing to love them, he makes them unlovable; in refusing to value their independence, he makes them dependent.
This leader doesn’t talk much, but he does much. He doesn’t need to say a lot, but lets his actions speak for him.
And when this leader is done with his work, when he has reached the apex of his success, his people will say, “We did it! And we did it all by ourselves!”
The master passed by a minister preaching against materialism. He was exhorting the congregation on the virtues of sacrificing their earthly desires for the rewards of heaven.
“Our treasure does not lie here on earth,” he said, “But it lies in the bosom of our heavenly Father.”
“Interesting,” remarked the master. “You preach against materialism but yours is even worse because you desire to bring it to the next life. You tell people not to cling to their possessions here by guaranteeing that they will have all those and more in the next life. You are after intangible rewards, but a reward nonetheless. What is so virtuous about that?”
A young rabbi became infamous because of his unconventional methods and teachings. Because of this, he earned the ire of the elder, more traditional rabbis. One day, an elder approached him and said, “Why do you do these things? If your father were still alive, I’m not sure he would approve of what you are doing. You are nothing like him.”
The young man replied, “When my father was young, he initiated many changes and reforms that have been our custom for these past 20 years. Now, we no longer think of these as reforms because we have been so used to them. But back then, everyone was against him because he was the only one who wanted to change, who was not content with the way things were. It is not true that I am not like my father. On the contrary, I am exactly like him. He followed no one. I, too, follow no one.”