True leaders do not always walk in front. Some of the best leaders the world has ever had did not always walk and stay in front. Their leadership is more effective when they walk, sometimes unnoticed, among the crowd/team members and they use their influence to lead the nations, businesses, schools, universities, churches, organisations and communities.


Often those leaders who walk and stay in front and are visible at all times follow the influence of the true leaders among the crowd/team. It is always so much easier to walk in front and pretend to be leading, with no influence at all, no vision but following the influence and the vision of others. This is what, for me, differentiates the true leaders from what I call the walk-in-front leaders.


What exactly singles out true leaders from those who simply walk and stay in front? Those who walk and stay in front are often following the vision and the influence of true leaders. True Leaders take time to craft an idea, they tell a compelling story of the vision born from that idea. These leaders have a passion about people and their needs, and their vision always talks directly to addressing those needs.


True leaders tell their story with such compelling passion and emotion that their story hooks and engages the minds and hearts of their people. Their words stick and are memorable. They stir the soul of their people to action. Simply put, true leaders take time to walk among their people to listen to them, listen to their needs and their stories.


They influence others without manipulation and coercion. Their people follow willingly and with a high level of engagement because they believe and are gripped by the stories of possibilities presented by compelling vision. Their people think outside the box, take risks, live outside the boxes and are innovative. They surprise their leaders with the simple solutions they come up with to very complex problems.


The true leader walks among the team and always catches his/her people doing the right things and gives them genuine from-the-heart recognition. This kind of leader constantly identifies gaps to develop, coach, mentor and grow their people to be even better than themselves. They are empowered and they empower others. You may also want to call them empowered leaders.


On the other hand, those who simply walk in front use rewards which in my view and in their hands is a form of “bribery” to gain follower-ship. They use command and control over people. Their people follow because the leader is there watching their every move and step.


They are gripped by fear of disappointing the “leader” often. They often demand that they be listened to. When they are not satisfied they withdraw rewards and people behave accordingly. Their people give them just enough to stay out of trouble with the “leader”. Innovation not approved or sanctioned by the leader is often punished or not rewarded.


These walk-in-front leaders develop a box, present it and expect everyone to live in it, act in it and think in it. They say “my way or no way!” They stifle growth, creativity and innovation in the name of conformance to their uncompetitive and average standard.


Choose today what kind of a leader you want to be. I choose to be a person of influence. Develop the attitude and values of a true leader if you want to succeed in living a lasting legacy.

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