Whenever someone asks me why leadership matters—and you’d be amazed at how often this comes up with clients—I always like to share one of my favourite quotes from Alexander the Great.
‘I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion’.
This is the power of leadership, and it was recognised by one of the greatest military leaders in history.
Leadership has the power to turn an army of sheep into a force that could defeat an army of lions. Now I see this as a principle that can be applied not only to war but also to sports, business, politics, and anywhere else.
It’s the leader’s job to turn his team into a team of lions, and we do this by creating beliefs and looking to get the best out of people.
Too often, I hear people tell me my team isn’t strong enough, and again, I share the same quote. This usually gets me some interesting responses. One person said, ‘Are you telling me it’s my fault that my team doesn’t perform?‘.
To which I just politely replied, ‘Leaders are accountable for their team’s performance, so yes, I guess I am saying that’s a possibility, and so is Alexander the Great‘.
Teams of lions don’t really come along that often, and even then, they need a lion to lead them.
Look at Manchester United. Under the lion that was Ferguson, they were the most successful team in English football, but under Moyes, they became a team of sheep who meekly surrendered their title and finished the lowest that they had for 20 years.
So what does it mean to be a lion?
It doesn’t mean running about shouting; real lions don’t need to roar; they know that they are lions, and so do others.
Being a lion is about being bold, about not backing down, about having the courage and belief in yourself and your abilities, and then taking that and looking to create the courage and belief in your team and their abilities.
When your team has courage and belief, they too become lions, and then they are capable of so much more.
This is why leadership is important, and as a leader, it’s your job to create a team of lions, even when you are given a team of sheep!
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