The Parsha we read on Shabbat Passover teaches 3 important lessons about leadership. The first lesson about leadership that we learn is that the leader needs to break the trail and be the one out front. The second lesson we learn is the necessity for openness and a willingness to hear feedback even when we don’t like what we are hearing.
At the very beginning of our Torah reading Moses turns to God and tells Him that the people want God to lead. That they want to know that He is in front of them. This is a lesson ingrained in many a soldier and team leader. One need look no further than the Israeli paratroopers motto “after me” to understand that leadership is not about telling others what to do. Rather leadership is about setting an example and giving others a path to follow. True leadership sets the example, showing others the most honest and direct path towards their goals.
What is interesting here is that Moses is giving feedback and advice to God. And God is open to Moses’ comments. He realizes that the people, as his followers, need to see that God is with them. It is not enough for Moses to tell them that God is with him.
The third lesson we learn in this Parsha is that, while we may have favorites amongst our followers, favoritism in and of itself can be problematic. Concentrating on those we favor can cause us to forget or ignore the needs of the rest of our family or team. Those who are just as deserving of our attention, praise, and love. And often those people are just as much (and sometimes even more) in need of our leadership and attention than those whom we see in the best of light.
And this is a lesson we can all take the heart as we try and lead our families and companies in these trying times. Our children, our followers, need to see our example and know we have set them on the right path. But we must also be open to hearing the feedback they give and adapting ourselves to their needs. We must acknowledge that, while we may have favorites, we are leading all of them and they all need our love and attention.
On this Passover it is more important than ever that we recognize the true meaning of leadership in our families, our businesses, and our countries. Leadership is not just telling others to stay at home but it is also keeping distance while trying to bring others closer. Leadership is about setting the example and making sure we stay connected no matter whom we favor or how far apart we are.