October 5, 2011 + Good Leaders Are Good Followers
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, October 1984
Leadership is an elusive quality and like so many characteristics of the outstanding human being, very difficult to describe. I think each of us has his own definition of leadership and what makes a good leader. In my opinion, a good leader is one who, first of all, has been a good follower, one who has proven oneself able to take instructions, able to subordinate one’s will to the will of others who have assumed the responsibility of leadership, able to make constructive comments and debate issues when necessary and able to stand up for the principles in which one believes. Having done this one can be called a good follower and begins to qualify for leadership although, I must say, not all good followers make good leaders. There are some people who are marvelous as choir singers but terrible as choir directors. Many of us are excellent followers but not all of us are good leaders.
To be a good leader, I believe one has to know where he is going, needs to understand what purposes and objectives are to be reached, needs to cling to those purposes and objectives and never compromise with the truth. Now there are times when he may have to bend a little, yield a little, but he always keeps a clear vision of the ultimate goal that he and his group wish to attain, and he dedicates himself totally and completely to achieving that goal ethically.
I use the term “ethically” because I am speaking of the kind of leadership that comes out of a godly community. A leader has to be one so dedicated to the highest principles of the cause for which he or she is working that he never deviates therefrom, never allows himself to be distracted, never allows himself to become complacent, lazy, slothful or careless in his operation. A good leader is one who is slow to judge others, quick to evaluate and criticize himself in order that he might benefit from his own self analysis and improve himself constantly. A good leader is one who listens to constructive criticism and who hears honest complaints and evaluates them with good judgment in order that he might apply that which is positive and affirmative to the attainment of the goals to which he is dedicated.
A good leader is one who remembers that without followers he has no one to lead; therefore, he shows respect for his followers. A good leader is one who never loses sight of the fact that it is his followers who make him a leader for it is his followers who give him the impetus and the impact that he carries. A good leader is one who is willing to give up his life and his wealth if the cause is lofty enough, if the principles are high enough and if the stakes are meaningful enough. A good leader as I started to say before knows where he is going so that he does not mislead his people.
St. Paul, as a good leader, points out in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, (15:1-11), “I kept preaching to you in order not to lead you astray but I preach to you the things that I learned from those who knew more than I did.” St. Paul knew where he was going because he had been directed by those who had greater knowledge than he. And so it has been down through the centuries in our Church and Faith, from father to son, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation, we have been taught that which our forbearers have learned and have preserved.
If a leader knows where he is going he knows his followers have confidence in his ability to lead them. A good leader must know where he is going and must understand how he is going to get there, be able to give clear directions to those who are following in order that he might inspire confidence in those who are following him. Above all a good leader understands that he is not the be-all and the end-all of leadership. He is humble enough to know that there is a Power greater than himself, upon which he must constantly call for guidance and strength, that there is the ultimate Leader of all who inspires each of us, who protects every worthy cause and who shelters us against harm.
Holy Apostle James, Son of Alphaeus- October 9
O holy Apostle James, thou didst receive the fiery grace of the Spirit and didst shine on the world like the morning star; thou didst dispel the pagan night of idols. Pray unceasingly for our souls.
Kontakion of St. James, Tone 4
James was a wonderful fisherman of the nations and companion of the Disciples and Apostles. He dispenses the wealth of his healings to the world and frees from distress those who honour him. With one voice we cry to him: Save us all by thy prayers, O Apostle.