Thanks Jon. Maybe “they were not trying to lead” is the same as committing to something bigger than yourself. Many of the moral leaders with whom I’ve worked consciously try to lead from behind. They are still leading, but make their leadership about others.
The philosopher Lao Tzu wrote: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. In this age of self-promotion, this can feel even more paradoxical. Yte Mandela was a leader who knew how to lead from behind — and when it was necessary to stand up in the front himself. But always from a place of effecting change, not simply to amass power or status.
I’m interested to find texts or speeches that illustrate — and illuminate — this idea. Thanks again for your thoughts.