Jumping In Front of a Parade Does Not Make You a Leader

Leadership is taking people to a place they would not have gotten to already. If you see a parade going down the street and you run up in front of it, they’re not actually following you. Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures


I am a big fan of podcasting. Recently, I listened to a Freakonomics episode about fighting terrorism. While my intent for listening was not to get a leadership lesson, that’s what I got.

My big take-away was something Nathan Myhrovold said while sharing his insight into how to respond to terrorism. His position is leadership is critical to fighting terrorism and he advises governments to build a strategic leadership policy to avoid confounding the problem. At one point in the podcast, Nathan defines leadership. He uses the quote above. It made me laugh but also made me think. It is a great visual metaphor that hits home about leadership.

Jumping In Front of a Parade Does Not Make You a Leader

This metaphor should be shared with all new leaders and as a reminder for experienced leaders. Here’s what this metaphor makes me think of:

  • Leadership is hard work. It is always earned.
  • Learn where you are. Listening to a podcast about fighting terrorism can give you an unexpected “a-ha” moment or reminder.
  • Learn to push your mind to develop. Cross-discipline interests and research produce creativity and innovation.
  • Be curious. About how things work, about the people you work with, about how to get and be better as a leader, about what is actually going on around you.
In Category: Leadership
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