Often in life we are tasked with being leaders in one capacity or another. At home, at work, in school, socially, economically, religiously; we are all leaders somehow. And as with everything else in life, we find guidance for this task in the Torah.
A true leader is a person of integrity, dedicated to the cause at hand and not swayed or affected by outside influences. Our sages teach that when G‑d created the universe, all species were created in pairs, except for man. Adam was created alone, and only later did Eve come along. One reason for this is so that his worldview would not be based on peer pressure or the desire to “fit in.” G‑d wanted the human personality to be rooted in the individual’s ability to have a unique perspective.
As descendants of Adam, we too have this innate ability to remain above the fray, to accomplish what we know to be correct regardless of the status quo.
When you are enthusiastic, it rubs off on others. As a leader, your commitment should be contagious, so that your charges will strive to be like you. Help them learn to think independently and to become leaders themselves.
Another important quality of a leader is humility. The Torah says about the greatest leader of all times, Moses, that he was the most humble person ever to walk the earth. This is not to say that you must pretend not to have whatever qualities got you to your position. Moses knew how great he was, but he also believed that these qualities were G‑d-given; and were G‑d to give these same qualities to someone else, then that person too could be a leader.
Being humble like Moses also means respecting your “followers” rather than using the leadership position for personal advantage.
And finally, as a result of developing true humility, you will attain another leadership quality: not fearing being wrong. Our sages say: “Who is wise? One who learns from all people.”
A true leader accepts critique from others, even from a subordinate. Work together with your team. When they recognize that you respect their opinions and are willing to improve, your accomplishments will be greater than ever expected.
(A version of this column was published on chabad.org)