What Gives You the Right to Lead?

In the book titled: The Right To Lead, the prolific leadership author and expert John C. Maxwell writes the following:

“What Gives A Man Or Woman The Right to Lead?

It certainly isn’t gained by election or appointment.  Having position, title, rank, or degrees doesn’t qualify anyone to lead other people.  And the ability doesn’t come automatically from age or experience, either.

No, it would be accurate to say that no one can be given the right to lead.  The right to lead can only be earned.  And that takes time.”


Many aspiring leaders, including many healthcare leaders, incorrectly assume that their “appointment,” their “title,” their “rank,” their “degrees,” their “tenure,” or some or all of the above qualify them to lead other people.

Not true.  Never has been… never will be!


Every well-seasoned, highly successful leader, particularly well-seasoned, highly successful healthcare leaders, have observed and dealt with many individuals who firmly believe their appointment, title, rank, degrees and tenure qualify them … somehow grant and entitle them the right to lead.

They may have the title, rank or degrees, but that does not give them the right to lead.  Because of their title, rank or degrees, they may be able to “order people around” or force people to do things in order to keep their job, but that is NOT leading.  Never has been… never will be!

Effective healthcare leaders do not focus on trying to make other people follow.  Effective healthcare leaders focus on making themselves the kind of people and the kind of leaders others want to follow.  As John Maxwell correctly observes, to become and be a highly effective leader, “you must become someone others can trust to take them where they want to go.”     

Forty years in healthcare as a senior leader and CEO has brought me in contract with literally hundreds of so-called “leaders” who think their appointment, title, rank, degrees or tenure qualify them to lead.  In my opinion, healthcare would be significantly improved, if not culturally revolutionized if all so-called leaders came to clearly understand and deeply appreciate that the right to lead must be earned.

If you want to maximize your personal and professional leadership capability (to be all that you are capable of being)… and if you want to maximize your personal and professional opportunities to serve and lead others (leadership excellence)… “You must become someone others can trust to take them where they want to go.”

Forget about your appointment, title, rank, degrees and tenure.  Earn the right to lead by becoming the kind of person and leader others can trust to take them where they want to go!  The team I was honored to lead at VHA ranked number one in the company in both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.  I guarantee you that no one appointed or gave our team that distinction… and it had nothing to do with title, rank, degrees or tenure.  We simply served the customer, served each other, and earned that distinction.

By becoming the kind of person and leader others can trust to take them where they want to go… your appointment, title, rank, degrees and tenure will become almost irrelevant.  What will not become irrelevant is your leadership excellence and the results of those you lead!

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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