More than just leading by example…

Long time, no write… enjoying the California summer and catching up on some reading. I came across a parable that really resonated with me.

I’m not always a great fan of parables. Many are great… short, meaningful and clearly an example of a bigger idea. Some, I find, don’t clearly articulate the intended idea (or, I could just be a bit slow in that area… ). See what you think about this one:

A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story:

“I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.

“About a year ago, an elderly man got on the bus and said loudly to the driver, ‘Good morning!’ Most people looked up, annoyed, and the bus driver just grunted. The next day the man got on at the same stop and again he said loudly, ‘Good morning!’ to the driver. Another grunt. By the fifth day, the driver relented and greeted the man with a semi-cheerful ‘Good morning!’ The man announced, ‘My name is Benny,’ and asked the driver, ‘What’s yours?’ The driver said his name was Ralph.

“That was the first time any of us heard the driver’s name and soon people began to talk to each other and say hello to Ralph and Benny. Soon Benny extended his cheerful ‘Good morning!’ to the whole bus. Within a few days his ‘Good morning!’ was returned by a whole bunch of ‘Good mornings’ and the entire bus seemed to be friendlier. People got to know each other.

“If a leader is someone who makes something happen, Benny was our leader in friendliness.

“A month ago, Benny didn’t get on the bus and we haven’t seen him since. Everyone began to ask about Benny and lots of people said he may have died. No one knew what to do and the bus got awful quiet again.

“So last week, I started to act like Benny and say, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone and they cheered up again. I guess I’m the leader now. I hope Benny comes back to see what he started.”

(From Michael Josephson and the Josephson Institute of Ethics – original page: Commentary 838.4: A Parable About Leadership)

It’s not just walking the talk. This was a clear example of that. It also says that a leader must be persistent, confident and caring. Someone who knows he or she can make a positive change and then takes steps to do so. Finally, it says, empower others to keep the ball rolling… Good Morning!


Age Old problem solved, the Zen way…How a glass is both half full, half empty and completely full at the same time. Photo credit:; used under the license

1 thought on “More than just leading by example…

  1. Rochelle Perkins

    I really love the story about the student who was asked to write an essay on what effective leadership is and the post about a glass always is full. I never would have given it a thought.


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