Judging a leader


When I was at school I was a don of a floor in my residence. I was jealous of one of the other dons, who had a close personal relationship with everyone on her floor. I was surprised one day to hear that she was actually jealous of me.

I explained to her that she was mistaken; she was a better don than I was because she was so close with all of the people on her floor. She shook her head. “I’m friends with them,” she explained, “but everyone on your floor looks at you with respect.”

I didn’t know what to say. Was that true? If so, how had it happened? I didn’t think of myself as a leader or having any special qualities. Most of the time I felt distant, cold and incompetent. Did they respect me anyway?

Leadership is a weird trait because it can only be measured by how other people feel. How you feel about it is irrelevant. All that matters is whether you’re the kind of person that others respect and want to take direction from. You’re the last person who should be judging your own leadership qualities.