What Seperates Real Leaders

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – Lord Action 1887

One of the most famous quotes about power, Lord Action points out one of the biggest struggles in leadership; power. A test to find a great leader is whether or not he can voluntarily step away from leadership and its power for the better of the team. Most people see leadership as way to their personal gain, but a great leader sees it as a way to everyone’s gain. The suprising result of putting the team first is the additional power and trust you gain from them.

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12 comments so far

  1. Wally Bock on

    The best leaders are driven by the success of the team, not personal success. I think that’s what Jim Collins was trying to get at with his Level 5 Leader. It’s not about humility. It’s about understanding that accomplishing the mission is a team objective and that you, the leader, are a part of the team.

  2. Charlie on

    True. It’s a sad reality that some leaders are doing it for fame and fortune and they don’t care about the welfare of others.

  3. Howie on

    So true. Some people are just using it as a tool to get what they want. It’s a shame that they use their group’s name for his own sake.

  4. Ivan Rios on

    I think great leaders attract great power. The key is, in my opinion,how this great power is used. It must be used, as all of you point out, in favor of those who you “lead”. This requires being able to separate the person from the mission, and putting the mission above the person.

  5. Jonathan Frye on

    I believe a little differently. I believe that power is the absence of leadership. Yes, leaders tend to rise to positions of power, but their leadership is a matter of influence. Once there is the exercise of power or the abrasion of conflict (generally the exercise of power is against someone or something), then there is an absence of leadership. Influence and leadership is constructive, while power and conflict are destructive.

    For the US, I believe one of the best decisions that the Founding Fathers made was to eliminate the use of titles of nobility. I wrote a blog entry to explain in part my viewpoint: Leadership is One of the Elements that Has Made America Great. The elimination of the titles of nobility, combined with the structure of the executive branch with checks and balances, provided for a platform for leadership and the elimination of major problems of power.

  6. Rick on

    I’m reading an interesting book called “The starfish and the spider”. It talks about the strength of leadership that emerges naturally and is shared. Much of the abuse of the power of leadership comes from positional leadership…positioned to control without sufficient accountability on issues like serving, developing others, and allowing for differences of perspective.

  7. joaquin on

    Not necessarily, I think u can be a great leader and good man, fair and firm. well I guess we need to define bad man

  8. Meiron on

    As Lord Action says: “A test to find a great leader is whether or not he can voluntarily step away from leadership and its power for the better of the team.” This is just one of many tests. Leadership means something different to everyone. We need to ask members of our team what leadership means to them.

    We need to take a step backwards and look into how leadership is defined. If there is one accepted definition then the answer is fairly simple. If however the definition varies across differing industries, cultures and philosophies then certainly it would not be possible to entertain one ideal outcome.

  9. Correy on

    I agree, attempting to gain power only to enhance ones self power as opposed to power for the greater good for the greater amount of people- such as for one’s team- is a way to ruin any man. Someone holding too much power will essentially become corrupt. Using power just to get what one wants is disgusting.

  10. lionheart on

    That’s an interesting quote. I don’t believe that great men are almost always bad men. Sometimes, yes. But there are so many “great” men that are good people and do great things for the world.

  11. Google on

    One of the most famous quotes about power, Lord Action points out one of the biggest struggles in leadership; power. A test to find a great leader is whether or not he can voluntarily step away from leadership and its power for the better of the team. Most people see leadership as way to their personal gain, but a great

  12. Guy Farmer on

    Great point Billy. We’ve become so used to leaders who work out their personal stuff on their employees rather than helping them grow and succeed through kind, positive behaviors.


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