Who is a leader?

One of the most discussed topics in business school is leadership. Every individual wants to be a leader. Some want to lead by control, others by delegation, and a few others by manipulation. Everyone has a definition of leadership, some call it the ability to lead others towards a common purpose, and some refer to it as an ability to influence stakeholders to achieve a common outcome, while others articulate it as a trait that helps one to attract followers. Although, these definitions express what a leader does, what it fails to address is who is really a leader.

This is the key question that drove me to search for answers and after six months in the MBA program, I can proudly state this is the one answer you will never get out of your business school education. Isn’t it surprising that individuals spend a fortune to attend business school to develop themselves as a leader, but this is the most elusive goal that evades them in their journey?

So who is a leader? Is he/she the one who turnarounds the company, is he/she the one who creates value (the most overrated business school lingo, I apologize for using it) for stakeholders, is he/she the one who fights for peoples’ freedom, is he/she the one who strives for the betterment of others. To be honest, I really don’t know and an MBA has not helped me either, so if business education does not help you find the answer to who is a leader, where should one turn to find the answer? The answer is quite simple, look at people around you in your daily life, how many occasions have they depended on you, for you to help them, to care for them, and to make them feel wanted, if you have ever been of help then they have followed you for that moment and you are already a leader. Because by simple definition a leader is one who has followers. These are followers, who follow you not because of your authority or control or your wealth, these are followers you earned out of love and respect and this is the leadership that you can be proud of. Next time when you hear a business school student proclaim that he/she is a leader, don’t worry for they do not know what they are talking about. I am no exception to this fate of an MBA.