To lead, first be loyal

Leadership is often used to mean "getting people to do what you want." A more worthwhile definition could be "getting people to want what you want." Or even better "making things that should happen, happen."

Leadership, above all, requires loyalty to both people and truth.

Top-down organizational change rarely works if the people aren't ready for it. At other times, I have been a hapless bystander as management has ruined a good company in a bad market by trying to drive it to greatness. Great theorists can make the worst generals.

As I don't tire of saying: people are more important than things. At times, those things include the truth.


Sometimes, all it takes is a bit more time for people to come around to your view. So be patient. Respect someone's ideas and dig deeper to see why they don't like what you believe to be the truth. Such a clarifying journey can be helpful for both the leader and the led.

To "command" loyalty is impossible. To deserve loyalty, first you must be loyal. This includes loyalty to your people, but also to yourself.

In speaking truth, it is thus necessary to gauge the readiness of others to hear it. They may need to hear it. They may say they want to hear it. But sometimes they can't hear it. Timing is crucial, since you may not get a second chance.

Above all, be loyal to yourself in evaluating the truth. Question whether you see what you want to see or you see what is. When discovering that the truth is not what you want it to be, do not take it out on others. Authority exercised thus is not just disloyal - it is incompetent and cowardly.

Authority is granted; it does not happen by appointment. Good leaders realize that whatever they may wish to do, it is only in the strength of their team that they can hope to accomplish it.