Leader is a person who has followers - Peter Drucker

Let’s take an example. Alexander? He was a leader right? A good one? He conquered most of the land known to the Greeks of that time. Starting from Greek, he led his army all the way to heart of India.

But what happened when he was preparing for a fight with Nanda for Magadha? His army refused. And he couldn’t convince his army to fight. What did he do then? He left for home.

Another example - Mahatama Gandhi. He was at the forefront of India’s movement for Independence. What happened after the independence? He was not a leader anymore. People started turning away from him. And one day, someone assassinated him because he was considered a “hindrance” in the progress of India.

Another example? Ok, last one. Churchill? Led British Army to victory in World War 2. After the war, Churchill told a huge crowd in Whitehall: “This is your victory.” The people shouted: “No, it is yours”. And what happened in the elections afterwards? He lost. Leader?

So, as we can see, all these people who are among the greatest leaders of all times did not have followers all the time. Even though they were still the same people all along, what really made them leaders and what took away the leadership position was the time.

There are several attributes that people tend to assign to leaders - tenacious, determined, leads from the front, thinker, etc etc etc. But the most important attribute of a leader is that he or she represents the aspirations of the people of that time. When aspirations change, leaders change.

As long as the Greek army was driven by a passion to conquer, Alexander served their purpose fine. But when the army got bored of fighting and wanted to go back home, he couldn’t move the army even by a couple of inches.

As long as people of India wanted self-governance, Gandhi looked like a leader to them. However, when self-governance was achieved, he was seen as a hindrance.

Churchill? Chief reason for his losing election was a desire for post-war reform was widespread amongst the population and that the man who had led Britain in war was not seen as the man to lead the nation in peace.

Conclusion? Leaders do show some attributes like tenacity, clear thinking, etc etc. But the most important thing is that leaders represent the aspirations of the followers and they inspire a belief in the followers that all their aspirations will get fulfilled through him/her.