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New TipsDo people follow a leader or do people follow a cause? Leadership exists only because there is the existence of a followership. It is true that some persons are followed because of the force of their personality and charisma. However, personality and charisma can only take you  thus far. Charisma helps to drive energy. In my view ideas are greater than personality and charisma. Ideas cause charisma to be energized. It is my belief that people are excited by ideas and a cause. As a result, leadership is successful and excites and incites others to follow only because leadership is committed to a cause. The right cause transforms followers into believers. This is the real challenge to leadership, not just to identify a cause but to engage people to become believers in the cause. This of course cuts both ways, since there are people who are so influential that they have been able to make believers of people, but to the wrong cause.

It is very important therefore that that when leaders attempt to make believers of people that such followers (believers) take the time to assess whether this cause is going to contribute to the social, economic and moral well being of the community, before deciding to follow that leader and cause. In the same vein therefore, leaders must be sufficiently imbued with a moral conscience not to attempt to make believers of followers of a cause that is morally wrong and reprehensible. In any event, such leaders generally fall, are unmasked and shamed.

A cause that is greater than just earning a reward or earning a living solidifies commitment. At the end, people are loyal not to a person, not to a boss, not to a company but to a set of values they can believe in and find satisfying. A cause is known to be worthwhile by the values it supports, and by the community’s well being it brings about. Here is a story that tells about the power of commitment to a cause.

The Americans waged an all out war against Vietnam. In terms of military presence, the Americans were far superior to the Vietnamese. In fact, America had set aside a sizeable amount of manpower and firepower for every living Vietnamese citizen. Yet, the well armed Americans lost then war, as their soldiers had no great cause to fight for. One of the most amazing events of the twentieth century, was not man’s conquest of the moon, but the resistance of the Vietnamese people against the mighty American army and war machine. This was a triumph of purpose over power.

As a leader what cause are you committed to? Is this cause likely to bring about a superior moral benefit to the community. It is such causes that inspire and energizes leadership success. The right cause transforms followers into believers.

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