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The Duty of Leadership

The Duty of Leadership, Fayette County Bar Association’s The Lexington Lawyer magazine, at 3-4

I was recently honored to present a seminar about fiduciary duties to the directors of a nonprofit organization. While preparing my remarks about the familiar duties of loyalty, care, and obedience, I had an epiphany. There is a fourth duty imposed on nonprofit board members: the duty of leadership. That same duty is also imposed on lawyers, both as members of the legal profession and members of the community at large. 

Countless books and articles have been written about leadership. Opinions differ about the best way to define leadership, practice it, and encourage others to recognize and follow it. John Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Colin Powell explained, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Bill Gates commented that “leaders will be those who empower others.” My own definition of leadership is best summarized by six words that I shared during a panel discussion with the Fayette County Women Lawyers’ Association a few months ago: show up, help others, (and) make decisions.

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