My mother would often tell me as a child that I was born for a purpose and that God had called my life into existence for that purpose. She told me that purpose was to devote myself to the service of humanity and to fight to build a more just, peaceful, and prosperous world. She and my father would constantly make it very clear to me that if I did not answer that responsibility, and if I did not serve my purpose, then blood would be on my hands. They told me that I should and most definitely would be held responsible for the condition of my community and my world under my watch. Sound intense? Well it was, and rightfully so.


What my parents taught me and conditioned me for was the understanding of what true leadership is and has always been.

Leadership is a state of service that is based on taking responsibility. This responsibility is not based in blame or guilt, but rather, in taking ownership for the community in which you live and the world in which you inhabit. Leadership is earning the influence that is required to be a powerful force that positively impacts the lives of those in which you lead and pushes them to a place that is measurably better than it was before your leadership.

I can still here my mother’s voice in my ear now, when I stood in front of the wooden stove where our bath water sat and was heated in a silver tin bowl. As she bathed me she would speak into my heart and passionately devote herself to molding my mindset on what true leadership is. I want to take a moment to share with you those qualities of leadership that I learned and work to practice, in the hopes that you will take some time after reading to simply reflect on this perspective of leadership.

No business, organization or community can be successful without strong, bold and capable leadership. I know that there have been countless blogs and books written about leadership, and countless speeches made concerning leadership, as there should be considering the vital importance of the topic. There have been decades of debates concerning the difference between leadership and management, and many different perspectives taken, which can be found in the majority of employee training manuals at most companies and organizations. Instead of sharing with you my perspective on the “keys” to leadership, I want to speak to you about the traits of leadership, and paint you a picture of what I have learned and believe leadership embodied in practice and embraced in mindset looks like.

 My view of leadership is based on the legacy of the leaders that history honors and that the vast majority of us admire and respect. My view of leadership is based on my experience growing up in eastern NC, learning from the leadership example set by the countless ordinary people doing extraordinary things that positively impacted the everyday lives of ordinary people in our communities.


True leadership is servant leadership. True leadership is an individual that humbly devotes him or her self to positively giving and impacting the lives and wellbeing of others. True leadership is the person who does not waste precious time on the foolish pursuit of seeking life’s purpose, because they understand and have the wisdom to know that their purpose is to BE an unstoppable and intentional force of love to everyone around them.


A leader does not wait for permission, title or public adoration to lead; they seize the moment whenever the opportunity presents itself for them to be of service, and they always start with the person that stares back at them when they look in the mirror.

A true leader understands that his or her success, impact and worth is measured solely by the condition, and the state of those that he or she is responsible to serve. The leader smiles when the people they serve are ignored and counted out, because doubt, fear and pessimism are nothing but fuel to the great and courageous fire that rages inside of them. They relish the opportunity to stand in front of the great storms that threatens their people, because they know that in times of great conflict, that this is when they are truly tested and proven.


A true leader knows that in those difficult moments, that the heavens themselves provide them with the opportunity to make their names great, and give the world an example to inspire and motivate souls to fight for their individual and collective greatness. They rally their people to hustle and fight like hell for their measure of peace, and the greatness of their name.

I want you to understand this very important principle - Leadership has always been and always will be the answer for the wellbeing of our society.

Leadership then, is not a mere title or position; leadership is a mindset of being a bold warrior and a devoted servant to those that you are responsible for.

The captain of the ship, the head of the army, the servant to humanity, the fixer of problems, the consensus and coalition builder, these traits are what describe the true gift and honorable burden of a leader. Make no mistake, leadership is no small thing, and it is a noble calling that should not be taken lightly. For the mindset of true leadership is the foundation of every great achievement and advancement that has ever taken place on earth. Leadership is rooted in a commitment to sacrifice, and a devotion to service to those that have entrusted you to leading them. Most importantly, Leaders understand and embrace the fragile nature of life and fight to keep in the forefront of their mind that death is certain and imminent. They live knowing that they must seize the moments before them, because any moment may be their last.

Leaders hold fast to the belief that their lives and their legacy on earth, their true success will be measured solely by what they give to this world, and not by what they took from it.


To be a true leader, you must start with the person that is the hardest to lead, which is you.

I humbly and sincerely ask you to ask yourself this– Does the picture of leadership that I have described here reflect your own leadership? How are you serving those that you are leading? Are you walking in true leadership today?

Know this, I need you and our world needs you to fight to BE what you are capable of being, and give what you are responsible of giving to better our world. I challenge you to hustle hard, never give up on your dreams and on your community.

Keep Fighting Forward! We love you and believe in you. 


– David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies team.


Check out our video on leadership  here!

Check out our video on leadership here!