It does not have to be that way for a leader at the end.
I believe great leaders do the same four things that great teachers and coaches do:
- They know their subject matter, be it algebra, football, or a particular business. This knowledge automatically earns them the respect of the people they are leading.
- They can disseminate their knowledge. We all know of the brilliant professor who cannot bring his knowledge to our level. His brilliance is never questioned, but he cannot simplify his knowledge so we can learn.
- They teach, coach, and lead with enthusiasm. They are enthused when we take their knowledge and succeed in history, basketball, or business.
- By far, their most important characteristic is that they care about the people in their charge beyond the narrow confines of a classroom, a baseball field, or a work place. Amos Alonzo Stagg, the football coach at the University of Chicago when they were in the Big Ten Conference, was a perfect example of this trait. His degree was in divinity but he felt he could minister to America’s youth better from a football field than a pulpit.
Combined, these four traits help create enthusiastic followers and enduring respect for a leader. Despite Twain’s sentiment, people do want to attend the funeral of a leader who cared about them.