No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I’m concerned, as long as it is not shown to every one of our people in this country, it doesn’t exist for me, (Malcolm X, 1964).
These words of Malcolm X show the passion, the love, and the heart of a true leader. A leader is someone that puts themselves out there for the people that follows them. In the world today, there are very few people that will speak as Malcolm did, today leaders hold back thinking too much of the effect of their words and actions. But it is just that the effect of your words and actions that will help those that they are to be leading in the first place, to understand and believe that you can then move in the direction that a leader should take.
Within different communities, leaders and followers have different relationships. Within the African-American community, the ones that submit their thoughts and actions to a person in a leadership position are seen as weak. Most people do not understand the meaning of a leader or leadership. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a leader as a person who leads others along a way; a guide, one in charge or in command of others, the head of a political party or organization. They go on to define leadership as the position, office, or term of a leader, a group of leaders, the capacity to be a leader; ability to lead.
American leaders today fail for a number of reasons. Most do not even realize that they are failing; this is because they do not have a mission. If you are in a position of leadership and do not have a mission you do not see failure nor can you see progress. Another problem is that most leaders do not know when to lead and when to follow. Although you are a leader times may come when you are to follow. Leaders must be able to submit before they can receive the full power that a leader must obtain. Being able to put your actions under the leadership of another will began the movement of your coming into your own as a leader.
So being a follower is not being less but being submissive to a greater power (good). Knowing your position is the first step to solving a task. As a follower, you are a student of that leader. Once you have reached the point when you are not learning it is then that you must become a leader. At times, some choose to skip steps and that is when failure occurs.