“Washing of feet” by Duccio, ~1308 (WikiArt)

Whether you’re an Atheist, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Daoist, a High-Flyer, a Hindu, or a Jew; a Shia, a Sufi or Sunni or Zoroastrian — whoever you might be — asking the question What does real leadership look like? has some currency today.   

No, those halos seen above are not required of leaders.  But a deeply humble sense of leading-by-example is still a key to success — which is well-illustrated in the exchange depicted above, of an “originalist” leading and teaching a dozen salt-of-the-earth followers, two of whom were either climbing the career ladder, or were naively aspiring to restore sanctity and ethical practice to their national theocratic system of worship.  So he seized this teachable moment.  Here’s a snippet quoting that teacher, by an unknown author simply called Mark. [scroll to v.42]:

43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant* of all.

[And then their leader proceeded to wash their feet, as a household slave could not be compelled to do in ancient Palestine at that time, but might do willingly, for a highly-esteemed family member.   ~John.]  Of course, said leader’s name is Jesus, of Nazareth, but his lesson is universal, and is still valid, although increasingly rare. Those who would lead, as well as those who vote, or might be wage slaves today, might think on this lesson.

*Note: the King James translators intentionally mistranslated the word slave – as servant, as they did not want the ranks of British “attendants” to hear themselves described by such a destabilizing term understood as chattel, or personal property.  

Leading by example seems almost a forgotten discipline, yet it is highly effective, and respected and memorable to those who may have been instructed thereby.