Once upon a time, a King ordered his two sons to build two large aqueducts to supply water to his country’s estates, which were in a very poor state due to a great drought.
The first son took part of his father’s riches and part of the army. With them he travelled north where he ordered the people of those lands to work hard on building the aqueduct. He oversaw the work very carefully, paying the villagers fairly, and finishing the project within the predicted two years.
Proud of his work, he returned to the palace, only to find the place in the midst of celebrations for the coming crowning of his brother as King. He was told that his brother had taken only one year to build his aqueduct in the south, and that he had managed to do the job with hardly any soldiers or money.
This seemed so strange to the first brother that he began to investigate the southern aqueduct. What he found amounted to more than a few irregularities. He returned to the palace, telling his father to not make his brother King.
“Why do you say that? Is there something I should know?” asked the King. “You know how much I love my brother, but he must have gone crazy. He has dragged our good name through the gutter. He built his aqueduct deviating from the plans. He created so many outlets that barely half the water arrives at the royal estates. He confronted the Prime Minister in front of the villagers, and he left without paying any of the workers. He even used your soldiers as labourers. And who knows? Maybe that’s only the start...”
The King, gazing affectionately at his son, replied.
“My son, what you say is true. Your brother had the initiative to modify the aqueduct to improve it; the wisdom to propose something which would improve the lives of everyone. And so he convinced the villagers to work quickly and without pay. He had the courage to confront the prime minister to defend justice, and the charisma to set his soldiers to work even more hours than the villagers. His commitment was so great that he himself was the one who worked hardest on the project, forgetting his Princely status. You know what, my son? This is why everyone adores your brother, and would do anything he asked them to do. He is more than their King, he is their leader”.
The Prince left, deep in thought. He came to recognise that the words of his father indeed pointed to the greatness of his brother. And without hesitation, he ran to his brother, to congratulate him.
Moral of the story:
Leadership is earned through actions that demonstrate courage, fairness, and commitment.