Leadership is Wasted on Leaders

Youth is wasted on the young,” goes a popular witticism, which has been ascribed to George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Michel de Montaigne and others. The point is that young people have the vitality and enthusiasm to achieve tremendous things, but they usually lack the wisdom, experience and maturity to actually do so.

Equally true is that leadership is wasted on leaders, but for different reasons. It’s not that people who are in a position of leadership — CEOs, politicians, coaches, clergy, judges and so on — necessarily lack any quality that lets them excel as leaders. It’s that they are expected to lead and to lead followers through difficult situations. They signed up for it.

What’s truly extraordinary is when someone not in a traditional position of authority steps up to leadership.