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Leadership and Rights: The Paradox

By Kevin Mogavero

Rights, a paradox of leadership.  In most cases, people become leaders to defend or increase the rights of others. Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Gandhi and Mother Teresa are easy examples.

Think about Steve Jobs, your local insurance agent, professional athletes and your local AC repair guy.

The leaders in these fields defend others’ rights as well. At the very core, they defend people’s rights to have a choice in products, service and employment. Given our free enterprise system, that right that they are defending is paramount to our country’s growth.

The paradox is, to be a leader and defend other people’s rights, you must give up the very right you are defending.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the victims of racial discrimination and segregation. To be a leader he had to give up his right to be a victim.

Henry Ford was a leader who offered affordable transportation to the average middle-class income earner. To be a leader he had to give up his right to be average.

Michael Dell defended peoples’ rights to have greater choices in personal electronics. To be a leader he had to give up his right to fit in with the status quo as he was expelled from college for making and selling computers on campus.

Michael Jordan created the highest spectator demand for the NBA. To be a leader, he gave up his right to be a spectator.

Your local AC repairman gives up his right to a comfortable work environment.

Doctors give up their right to work in a healthy environment.

George Washington led a fledgling group of disjointed Colonies to defeat the strongest army in the world. The colonies had been under the tyranny of King George III. Washington’s leadership started a ragtag, disconnected community on its path to becoming a great nation.

To lead, he gave up an innumerable amount of rights, the most noteworthy of which was the right to accept the title of King. After the war, the Continental Army had conspired to make George Washington King of America. With a short and simple speech George Washington disbanded the conspiracy and gave the world the right to live without tyranny.

Whose rights are you defending? What rights are you willing to give up to be the leader they need?


Kevin Mogavero is a co-founder of “Six Degrees of Leadership,” a personal development company that empowers people to live their purpose and passion by building “Social Capital.”

A graduate of West Point Academy, Kevin served six years as an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery.  He held a combat arms leadership role for his entire career, except one staff position, during which he obtained a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management. He also served in Iraq during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Since the military, Kevin has worked for Honeywell as an earned-value analyst in the aerospace department, in Phoenix Arizona.  

He started testing his leadership skills in the entrepreneurial world by starting several companies, to include a real estate company and a business mailing-address company. Kevin loves to serve people who have a yearning to create a better life for themselves and others.  He is passionate about teaching people the importance of something that most take for granted: relationships.

Kevin lives in Phoenix with his wife and two daughters. Read and subscribe to Kevin’s Warrior Blog here.

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