How Much Can a Leader Ask?

There’s a lot of talk about vulnerability and service in leadership. By and large, that’s a good thing: leaders who are serious about vulnerability and service are often better than the other kind.

But, at some point, the essential characteristic of a leader is that she’s willing and able to lead. Sometimes, that means leading a group to go deeper by being the first to show uncertainty or fear. Other times, though, a leader needs to embody the certainty that people are looking for, even if she’s not feeling perfectly certain of herself.

Uncertain leaders can really benefit by stretching themselves in the company of surefooted followers. And uncertain followers can grow by emulating a leader’s example.

Yet uncertain leadership of uncertain followers can be a risky combination. Dropping the reins can get you bucked off just as quickly as holding too tightly.