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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsYou may be wondering who I see as a leader. I consider Nelson Mandela to be a leader, as he fought tirelessly for human rights. He believed in equality and never backed down from his aim to achieve this lofty goal. He set an example for the rest of humanity. He fought with dignity and courage, qualities that everyone should aspire to have. So did you just learn something about Nelson Mandela? Perhaps. But you also learned something else. Rather than just learning about Mandela, you have gleaned some valuable information about me.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 secondsI just told you that I place value on human rights and social justice causes and that I saw his conduct as dignified and courageous and, as such, have high regard for people who behave in ways that I see to be dignified and courageous. It also shows that when describing a leader, you often learn more about the person who is describing the leader than the leader themselves, because you are hearing about the leader and seeing them through someone else's eyes. So if you want to learn something about another person, get them to describe a leader. It won't necessarily tell you useful things about leaders or leadership, but you will get to know the person better.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 secondsThis notion of learning about other people through their description of a leader, transitions us into defining leadership.

What your role model says about you

Your choice of role model reveals more about you than about the leaders you choose.

There are three main conclusions to be drawn from the implications of who is regarded as a leader.

  1. We can never all agree on whether someone is a leader or not.
  2. Who you see as a leader/leadership role model says more about you than the leader themselves.
  3. Anyone can be a leader so long as someone else sees them as someone they want to follow.

Your task

Watch the video to find out who Andrea regards as a leader and what this says about her.

When you’re done, reflect on what your leader role model says about you and share this with others in the comments. In turn, you may also want to comment on what other learners’ role models say about them.

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This video is from the free online course:

What Is Leadership?

Deakin University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Stenciled evolution of man from ape past to mobile-headed.
    Modern leadership thinking

    In this article, discover a timeline of leadership thought, theories and approaches to leadership from the early 20th century to contemporary times.

  • Double exposed shot of a mid-aged hipster man in a suit, standing with a mobile in hand in the middle of a busy European street.
    Individual differences

    Read how Dr Andrea North-Samardzic describes the impact of individual differences, including personality, attitudes and perception, on leadership.

  • Case study: who's telling the truth?
    Case study: who's telling the truth?

    Watch this reconstruction of a workplace murder mystery to discover the role of perception in leadership practice.