Great Leaders Develop Leadership in Others

This was originally posted on TCU Nation as a comment. It is re-posted here with permission.

National demonstrations of Revolutionary spirit appear to be more than fleeting episodes of civic passion. Stirred by the recent torrents of forceful bureaucracy, Americans seem to know their liberty is in jeopardy.

Many spontaneous protests evoke the Boston Tea Party. There, feverous speeches channel the Founders and are brilliantly propounded by unfamiliar orators who are more often unaided by the privilege of elected title.

Websites, podcasts, Internet videos and town-square demonstrations have leapt from burbling soapboxes to become the Boston Harbors of today. New leaders are bursting out everywhere – good ones, too – from the ranks of the people; not from the offices of government. This is really cool!

It’s a good time for patriots to consider the concept of “leading upward” meaning helping others to find their voice and become the leaders of tomorrow. Yes, good leaders are always apt to lead, to deliver a rousing speech and chair the meeting themselves.

Great leaders, though, develop leadership in others, always willing to support, organize, promote and inspire. Leading upward means putting one’s ego aside, celebrating the promise of those with talent, taking a seat in the audience as one’s protégés ascend the stage.

Leading upwards entails knowing the personal and professional needs of others, appreciating their egos and developing their skill. It’s what prepares great managers to become great CEOs, and what turns great players into winning coaches.

In 1774, the British blockaded the Boston Port in an attempt to starve the city’s rebellious citizens. In solidarity, surrounding communities and neighboring colonies organized relief.

William Prescott led the people of his town to raise and deliver considerable supplies of rye. His letter to the famished Bostonians is a vintage example of leading upward.

“We heartily sympathize with you, and are always ready to do all in our power for your support, comfort and relief; knowing that Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock,” he wrote. “We consider we are all embarked in [the same boat] and must sink or swim together. We think if we submit to these regulations, all is gone.”

As the urgency for developing liberty-oriented leadership is high, the need for leading upward has never been more crucial. Many ask me, “What can I do?”

I implore you the reader to be a great leader, to be like William Prescott. The need is very real and the opportunity is truly revolutionary.

Like Prescott, we think if we submit to the torrents of forceful bureaucracy, all is gone.

Bob Schaffer is the Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education. He is a former US Congressman and Colorado State Senator. He is also the Chairman of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. His monthly columns appear in the organization’s newsletters. For more information please visit www.leadershipprogram.org

More information about Schaffer at www.BobSchaffer.org