Think for a minute about how much of human history, good and bad, has been impacted by a relatively small group of people. Constantine, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, Billy Graham, Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., for example, all have one simple thing in common. They are all leaders. Admittedly, this particular list is a sphere of leadership relatively few of us will ever operate in. However, the principle still applies regardless of how many people you lead. Whether you lead a classroom of students or a nation, the weight is heavy but the opportunity is the stuff that literally makes history.
Change happens at the hands of leaders. When I say “leaders”, I am not talking about those with positional authority. When I say “leaders” I am simply referring to those who influence others. Most people like things just the way they are, thank you very much! We are comforted by the predictable and we are coddled by certainty. But most leaders, on the other hand, have an unavoidable dissatisfaction with....something. Leaders want to change things. Restlessness is the constant companion of leaders; it comes with the gift.
So when we think about where we make the greatest investment of our time and resources, shouldn’t it be with those who have the greatest capacity to cause things to change? When we have a business, community, church, or country to change, shouldn’t we build into the lives of the relatively few in order to have the greatest impact? We don’t know the names of the people who invested in Constantine, Machiavelli, Martin Luther and the rest, but the investments they made in one person, changed the world.
One leader cannot have enough relationships with enough people to singlehandedly cause any significant transformation of a group, no matter how gifted they may be. But one leader, investing in enough leaders, will change everything.
Our vision is a world transformed by a global movement of compassion and justice evidenced by the eradication of needless suffering. If leadership development is not one of our greatest investments, how can we ever expect this vision to be more than a dream?