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Leading with Friendship

Think of the person whom you most admired, as a child. Were they brave or intelligent or exciting? Whatever reason it was that made them so fascinating, I’ll give you another reason why you liked them. It was because you felt as if they were on your side—that they were your friend. They were considerate of you and you respected them for that, thus you cared about what they thought. Your admiration for them meant they had power over you, and in a way they became your leader, just because they were your friend.

I know people who have tried to become leaders and tried to gain followers but failed. Do you know why? It was because they had not established friendships with those whom they were trying to lead. Some people think that leadership is all about getting people to listen to and obey you. But true leadership is more than that. True leadership is getting to know your followers and finding out what their need is. The best way to get to know someone is by becoming their friend, and unfortunately, many leaders forget to make friends.

Making friends of your followers is a crucial step in leadership because if you don’t know what your followers need and where they are going, how can you lead them anywhere? If then, friendship translates into admiration and admiration into respect, then perhaps something of what is hidden in the definition of leadership, is simply friendship in its most exemplary state.

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