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An Article to Honour Our Leaders Without Status

An Article to Honour Our Leaders Without Status

Not every act of greatness makes the history books. Going on the premise that every act of greatness is creditworthy, we reach an obvious question: Is greatness in the act itself, the credit given for it, its depiction through the years, or the thought that inspired it? Is it a combination of one or more of these?

Consider this for a moment if you will.

This question really goes to the heart of how we define leaders and leadership. For something called the vividness bias – a mental predisposition to accord relevance disproportionately to the grand and glorious – makes it easy to miss the little things that exemplify character and integrity. Virtues we hope for in our leaders.

To give us some real-world context, let’s consider small acts of humanity and character, borrowed from everyday life.

  1. A younger commuter who stands up for an elderly person on the train or bus.
  2. A business owner who chooses not to evade or avoid taxes despite having an opportunity to do so.
  3. A child who shares their lunch with a less fortunate child at school and – in the same vein – the parent who notices this and packs extra lunch.
  4. A parent who chooses to be part of their child’s life at the risk of not progressing in their own career.
  5. A decision-maker who places their own stereotypes aside in hiring (or promoting) a deserving candidate.
  6. A police officer who adopts a homeless mother’s opioid-addicted newborn
  7. And lest we forget, every employee who voluntarily puts in extra when needed, without asking for more.

True, these are selfless acts of kindness. But there’s more to being selfless than meets the eye. It takes a higher level of thinking to be selfless than it does to be selfish. In my view, anyone acting at this thought level is capable of leadership.

To cap this one off I want to share a story that touched me deeply from a book I read recently. When a young economist lecturer at the University of Chicago lost his son through illness, a colleague graciously sat in for him while he took time to recover from the shock and grief of it all.  A show of great humility and humanity. That colleague was none other than Gary Becker – a Nobel laureate nearing his 70th birthday.

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Gary Backer died on the 3rd of May 2014 at the age of 83. I dedicate this article to his memory.

Is there anyone you would like to honour for something they did? Feel free to leave a note in the comment section.

Thanks for reading.

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