Dictionary.com says: 1) a person or thing that leads. 2) a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.
World English Dictionary says: a person who rules, guides, or inspires others; head.
Businessdictionary.com says: person or thing that holds a dominant or superior position within its field, and is able to exerise a high degree of control or influence over others.
I say a leader is more than all of these definitions. A leader is one who leads by their influence and not by the power inherent in their position. A leader is also a person that wants to see you become the best possibly person that you can be, even to the point of surpassing their accomplishments and ability. In this capacity you’ll see that a leader is not selfish and not afraid of a persons rise. Another characteristic of a leader is how they view the people they are leading. They don’t view themselves as a superior entity/person to those that are under their charge. Leaders are those who choose to build up the people or mission that’s been given to them so that they grow in such a way that they surpass and achieve more than what they themselves are capable of doing.
A leader can do this because he/she doesn’t have their sense of security and controlling people and keeping the better person away from opportunities that might cause a shadow to be cast over them. They would rather see people grow and be all that they are capable of being and then some. As much as many of the experts out there say that being a leader is something that anyone can learn to do, I’m going to have to disagree with them. Being a leader is not a result of some tools that you learned and then applied to your various life situations; being a leader is a result of who you already are as well as your choice to help others be the best version of themselves that they can be.
Leaders are important to your life because leaders do more than lead you to your fullest potential, they mentor you so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes (or worse) on your way to maximizing who you are. Well with that said, do the “leaders” in your life right now really measure up to being a leader or are they more of a “manager” (we’ll delve more into that in the What is a Manager Post).