Who Will Choose To Lead?

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    I live in the Kansas Flint Hills. It’s ranch land, no more than 4 people per square mile. (No surprise, then, that I do most of my coaching by telephone.) But we are a community. And we have no shortage of issues requiring leadership.

    Leadership is not the same as Authority.

    As we blog about definitions of leadership, I urge you to remember that “Leadership” is NOT the same as “Authority.” Let’s toss the word “leader” out of the lexicon. It doesn’t mean anything. The current habit of talking about “leadership positions” confuses things. Authority is a position. You must CHOOSE to lead.

    Leadership is an action.

    Leadership is an action. Acts of leadership are exceedingly rare.

    Here in Chase County, Kansas, as elsewhere in the country, citizens regularly and dutifully step up to fill positions of authority. We have our Mayors, County Commissioners, Chairs of this and Presidents of that. There’s a Fire Chief and a Sheriff. Each church has its Pastor, each school its Principal.

    But tonight I’m reminded of our need for leadership. It’s a beautiful spring night, the wind is calm, and bright orange flames slice across the hills outside my kitchen window. It’s FIRE SEASON in the Flint Hills. Tonight, ranching families are doing what they’ve done for so long that most of them would say, “We’ve always done it.”

    But this custom of burning every pasture every year (begun in earnest only 30 years ago) is polluting the air as far away as Louisville, Kentucky. It’s destroying habitat for prairie chickens and other native species. The EPA is cracking down and ranchers are hanging on tight to the culture they’ve been raised in.

    There is no Prairie Fire Czar with authority enough to dampen the conflict. We don’t need to create another position. No one need be elected or promoted. Finding a solution that the community can live with will require countless, individual acts of leadership.