A leader's ultimate goal is not the maintaining of followers but the production, development and release of leaders. Therefore, a true leader must measure his or her success by the diminishing dependency factor of his or her followers. In essence, the less the followers depend on the leader the more effective that leader.
True leaders are secure. It is my conviction that true leadership has very little to do with followers or people, but rather a personal discovery that transforms an individual. Leaders are simply people who have discovered and dare to be themselves and commit to manifest themselves fully. True leadership is self-discovery and self-expression. True leaders are more concerned with expressing themselves than proving themselves.
Would-be leaders employ others, true leaders deploy others and create an atmosphere for others to discover themselves. True leaders do not clone others in their image but rather help others discover their own true uniqueness and motivate them to deploy their gifts.
It is this unique self-awareness of a true leader that makes him or her possess a deep sense of security that cannot be threatened by the success or failure of others. It is this sense of personal purpose and spirit of significance to life that allows the true leader to glory in and contribute to the success of those he or she mentors. Mentoring is impossible where there is insecurity.
Leadership born out of the desire for power, position, recognition, greed, authority and self-adulation will produce an insecure character that will never mentor, but will instead protect itself at the expense of the potential of others. This kind of leadership is manifested through fear, suspicion, distrust and jealousy of others and exercised by oppression, dictatorship and the suppression of the abilities of others.
True leadership makes itself increasingly unnecessary. You are a successful leader when your followers can lead others to leadership. The ultimate measure of true leadership is the ability to leave your position and see the next generation of leaders further expand your accomplishments.
Very secure leaders are those whose passion is not only to see their followers lead and do greater exploits that they, but who desire to remove themselves from the situation so that their followers can succeed.
This runs counter to the spirit of many so-called leaders today who see the advancement, progressive development and emergence of potential leaders as a threat. Their insecurity demands that they smother new talent and extinguish the fire of manifested giftedness. These are leaders who identify themselves and their self worth with their titles and positions. They are suffering from a lack of purpose and passion and consider mentoring a danger to their survival.
Like Jesus, true leaders set others free to be leaders, providing opportunity for others to find and fulfill their God-given purpose and potential.
Like Jesus, they know that true leadership is measured by what happens in your absence not in your presence.
Like Jesus, they understand that true leaders rejoice when their followers become greater and more effective than they were.
Like Jesus, they know that the ultimate measure of leadership success is the success of one's successor.
True leaders think generationally. This is the deepest motivation for mentoring. A mentor is born when a leader discovers his debt to the next generation. Consider these words of the ultimate Leader:
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you (John 17:20-21, NIV).
This statement is filled with generational thinking and exposes the leadership philosophy of Jesus:
His obligation was not only to His generation but to future unborn generations. His expectation was also that they would carry on His work and produce greater results. As a matter of fact, Jesus' perception of and perspective of the purpose for authority was not the oppression or suppression of the authority of others but rather the giving of authority to others and the cultivating of their own authority. "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations' " (Matt. 28:18-19). Here we see authority being given to a Leader and His response is to use that authority to set others free to use their authority to act and fulfill their purpose. His greatest success was not what he did but what they did after he left.