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Timeless Leadership for a New World

Erika Andersen

October 10, 2012

"The moon has risen. You and your family and friends are gathered around the fire, deciding who will be your next chieftain. Your former leader has died in battle, and this is a solemn and important occasion. The adults speak quietly, the firelight flickering over their faces, while the children and adolescents listen to every word. [...] This is the most important decision the tribe can make: choose badly, and they could all starve to death, or be overrun by an invading enemy. Choose well, and they can hope for safety, freedom, a measure of prosperity. The discussion continues far into the night. [...] Our deeply-wired-in sense of what makes a good leader is still there. You can see it every day in how we respond to the leaders in our organizations. Some leaders are merely "appointed": they may have the title and the corner office, but people simply don't commit to them. They have employees, but they don't have followers. Then there are what I call "accepted" leaders. Sometimes they don't even have the external signs of leadership—they may not have the top job or the big paycheck, but people gravitate toward them. People want to work for and with them; teams coalesce around them and achieve great things. What's the difference?"

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