The qualities of a leader

This week it is Passover, and as Jews we partake in a celebration of freedom from slavery and oppression. We are commanded to tell the story of Moses and how he’d led the ancient Israelites from Pharoes enslavement.

In our home my father always recreated the story and the family celebration (the Seder) to make it relevant to us and to reflect modern themes. As a child I remember identifying not just with ancient Israelite slaves, but also with modern day debt slaves in the Indian subcontinent. We were always encouraged to see the festival as an opportunity to explore the concept of liberation in a wider way.

This year was quite different as my father handed the reins of the Seder, and the tradition of leadership to me. It was a strange feeling to sit beside my “Abba” and watch him enjoy the night as a participant, supporting and wishing my success, but allowing me to implant my own leadership style on the proceedings.

Then this morning I hear about the succession planning of a business leader I have always respected. This is long term planning for the success of her business, and what I realised is that she has a 24 month plan that involves making herself replaceable. Interestingly, her nominated replacement is not the popular man of choice, and will need grooming and development to fit the role. He may even need to experience another working environment, in or out of the business, to enable success.

When Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites, he was an unlikely choice. It is said he was such a poor communicator that he had to bring his brother Aeron to meetings to deliver his message effectively. Yet with the belief of his mentor (in this case someone with godlike qualities), and the faith of his people (who could be quite two-faced at times) he led his people effectively. Many in the Jewish faith believe the Exodus story to have relevance beyond the factual story of Egyptian enslavement. They believe that now is a time to explore our own enslavement and create freedom in any area where we feel oppressed.

Actually my father didn’t dump leading the Seder on me this year, or even at the end of of last years Seder when he announced his retirement. He has been succession planning for years and his coaching, council, and support enabled me to easily slip into the role.

Great leaders understand their own strengths and have the ability to see beyond their peoples perceived weaknesses to enable them as future leaders. It is what God did for Moses and what my father has always done for me.

Who are the future leaders in your life?

What limiting beliefs could you help free them from to empower them as leaders?

What qualities do you think leaders will need to drive success in this era?

Answers on a blog comment card.


Categories Article, Happiness, Leadership, Learning. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marguerite Presman wrote:

    I like your blog and truly hoped you enjoyed “your seder”. Maybe we can plan to have a seder for all the family and include Dylan and family with us all one day.
    Love you lots

  2. Steven Fine wrote:

    I feel I’m intruding on a Presman family blog but will take my chances. Your thoughts about the Jewish Passover, your ‘Seder’ night,and the passing of the leadership baton from father to son made me think about other religions and leadership.

    Indeed the same week Jews celebrated Passover, Christians round the world celebrated Easter.

    In the 21st century, religion is being demoted in peoples lives. The number of Church of England marriages is declining whilst non religious services are increasing. Those attending their place of worship on a weekly basis continues to decline.

    This move away from the power and authority of religion is for reasons. However what is clear, and oft forgotten, is the lessons of religion as an inspiration in leadership and life.

    How Moses led the Jewish people through the desert on faith alone was testament to the power of his leadership. Similarly, regardless of our belief system, Jesus exemplified the ultimate leadership.

    So Gavin, thanks for reminding me that whether I believe in religion or not, there are valuable lessons for my leadership, my life and my workplace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *