When we look back through history at powerful leaders who have had huge and lasting impact on others, we can see a couple of common indicators:
1) Those consequential leaders believed uncompromisingly in their cause. Though they may not have understood completely where their leadership would ultimately “take” the tribe (in fact, few leaders know this), they believed strongly in the tenets, the vision, the rightness of their direction.
2) Those powerful leaders cared deeply about those who followed them. The best of our leaders understand that many sacrifices are made along followership's path. Another word for those sacrifices is commitment. None of us have enough time/energy/effort/resources to do everything that is important. Choosing to invest in a particular vision/cause implies choosing not to spend our time/energy/efforts/resources on some other ones (even though they may be worthy ones). The best leaders understand the commitment behind those choices and reciprocate with care.
Authentic leaders understand that forced compliance is not leadership. When others volunteer to follow a cause/vision, their best efforts follow (without compliance elements like excessive monitoring, sanctions, penalties, score cards, hierarchies, etc.). When folks are coerced or forced into followership, their best efforts rarely ensue.
As leaders (Who Are the Leaders?), two important questions follow:
How deeply do I believe in the rightness of the direction/vision I’m pursuing (and trying to get others to follow)?
How much do I care (and show it) for those who choose to follow along?