Know the people around you and those around you will know you.
A man can distinguish himself only when facing critical situations. He can overcome the will of the people around him and can rise above them at the appropriate moment, like a burning flame giving hope, if in the most difficult moments he displays courage, ability and resolution. Only if he proves to be an ace in leading people, if he's unyielding in his decisions and capable to throw himself first, with no fear, in front of any danger, will gain the confidence of others and will enjoy their support.
But nobody can become a leader easily. And that's because, first of all, people want proof of the person's ability to lead them. In other words, people want to test the person, taking into consideration its qualities and faults, abilities and competences, before approving its lead.
A leader with great performances
After reaching Kos Island, under the pale light of the stars above the ship deck, the sea-dogs from Focea gathered around Dionysius moaning and groaning. They were all exhausted; they were out of breath because of the efforts they made during the past days. They were rushed to row without cessation and they were feeling bloodless.
Noticing his men's distorted faces, neurotic gestures and tiredness and, after hearing many of their weeping, Dionysius, the commander of the galleons, told them:
- Let's give thanks to the immortal gods for keeping you wise and having chosen a determined commander. I, Dionysius, son of Focea, shall not abandon you. I'm not telling you these words for you to keep following me only because I'm the most skilful seafarer, because I'm stronger and more astute than any of you, and let's no longer talk of my other virtues. But think well! Is there among you a man better than I am? If there is, then dare he also say it. So we can decide what to do from now on.
Everybody hushed. Nobody claimed the right to be commander. Nobody considered himself more cunning than Dionysus, nobody was interested in replacing him at the command of the galleons. Why?
For only one reason. Nobody doubted that Dionysus was the most skilful of them all. Nobody dared to do what he could do. Everybody knew his qualities and recognized him as the only one capable to lead them to sea, the only one capable to lead them to victory in the sea battles against the Persians. Having spent to so much time on the sea with him, his men go to know him very well, and they knew that he was a person that they could really rely on and that there was no commander better than him. In his turn, Dionysus knew his men very well. Being certain that there wasn't any captain better than him, he could exercise his authority, which was recognized, and he couldn't be replaced by anyone else.
Dionysus will always by a complete example: he knew how to lead people to victory, even though he was brutal and severe with them. He never eluded anything, by simply raising his shoulders saying “I don't know”, but he responsibly pondered upon everything pro and against, everything that was good and everything that was bad for his crew, and, with his knowledge of navigation, he lead them in the best direction, especially when they had to go through hard times. His men were convinced that luck would be on their side as long as Dionysus lead them, and should they ever dispense with him, luck will completely abandon them.
One of the most important things that a leader must do is to spend enough time around people until he will get to know them very well. If he won't know them very well and, respectively, people won't know him very well, then nothing will be certain.
Of course, thus, the leader becomes known. But I pity the leader who has various weaknesses, which will be recognized by those lead by him. That is why it is important for him to know himself well first, and if knows he still has some weaknesses, hide them well, because once known by others, he will be manipulated by them.
P.S. In order to have a great influence on people, you must stay a lot around them, to prove your cunningness, your abilities, professionalism and devotion to them. To dominate them by an unyielding will, vivid and inexhaustible spirit, by a continuous and powerful will to win the victory. And if you give them back their hope in the future, they won't disappoint you and will never look for other leaders.
Note: Mika Waltari - Etruscul, editura Polirom, 2002.