Max DePree defines leadership as “Defining reality and saying thank you.”
I love this pithy definition. It implies (a) truth-telling, and (b) team.
The leader must operate with circumstances as he or she finds them, not as they (or those following) wish them to be, as they move people toward a future they believe in but which does not yet exist. A leader is also a dealer in hope, and must keep people’s focus on the future they believe God has for them. But this must be done from a place of looking at present reality, not of wishful thinking, and in leading people forward into a preferred future, defining what that future reality will be.
And the leader must work through others, who then need to become the primary recipients of credit. One can only say thank you if they are empowering others to do the work, and subsequently getting their own ego needs far enough out of the way to let that person receive the praise for the work done. No one ever washed a rental car, and no one will continue to follow a leader into work they don’t personally own. If you are (genuinely) saying thank you it means people are empowered to do/own the work.