We can’t legitimately venture an answer this question, of course, without first defining what we mean by the term ‘leader,’ at least in our own eyes. There is more than one way to do this, but, for simplicity’s sake, let’s use free association to identify some of the traits we expect to see in a ‘leader.’
More specifically, let’s pretend to ask a group of 15 volunteers to voice the first word that pops into their head when they hear a certain trigger word. Using ‘leader’ as this trigger word, let’s say that our 15 volunteers respond by building the following list of traits, with each volunteer contributing one trait:
To make this list your own, you might want to put a checkmark in front of each trait you agree with, and cross out and/or replace any traits you do not agree with. You might then want to name as many leaders as you can who embody at least a majority of these traits.
If you have trouble doing this, you might want to ask yourself if what follows might be the problem:
The real leaders among us are highly resistant to taking up the mantle of leadership (and everything that goes with it), because they have little or no appetite for either outsized responsibility or outsized power. In most cases, in fact, they will go out of their way to avoid even the possibility of bumping into the one or the other. To be activated into service, these latent leaders essentially need to be conscripted, as in the example of a juror being designated foreperson, or Ben Franklin being designated commissioner to the French court.
In the novel Poor Richard’s Lament, Franklin suggests that in every group of seven people, assembled at random, there is at least one latent leader who will rise to the occasion, whatever that occasion might be, if enlisted. Might you be one of those?