Leadership: How Genuine Leaders Act and Speak


I love the way Simon Sinek has distinguished between leaders and genuine leaders and I quote,

“There are leaders and there are those who lead.”

Genuine Leaders

To me the genuine leaders are those who are sincere to the cause they champion and to the people they lead. One of the overriding objectives for them is to produce more leaders who are capable of steering the organization into future. They will spot the people with potential, encourage them to take leadership roles, nurture their abilities and mentor them in and through different situations.

Preparing Future Leaders & Successors

Once they are satisfied that their successor is ready to take over, they step down or move aside to enable the successor. One of hardest things to do  in life is letting go of what you consider part of your life and hand it over to someone else – even though you know that that’s the right thing to do. Those who have the capacity and courage to do so are genuine leaders as they rise above themselves.  They act in the interest of the cause and people they lead.

Paul Graham – The Founder of Y-Combinator


Such is a rare breed of leaders. However, I have come across one such leader. I have never met him or had any direct interaction with him. I first heard him interviewing an Angel Investor on a Podcast. Impressed, I researched him through Youtube Videos and then came across the organization, Y-Combinator, that he and his wife Jessica Livingston co-founded in March 2005. Yes, I am talking about the legendary Paul Graham. In 2014, after heading the coveted incubator cum accelerator for 9 years, he handed the reins to a young and ambitious Sam Altman. I am reproducing what Paul wrote about the transition explaining the need for transition and the suitability of his successor. To me it’s not less than a scripture. It embodies vision, clarity, sincerity and above all genuine leadership. Enjoy!

Sam Altman as President

By: Paul Graham

I’m delighted to announce that Sam Altman has agreed to become president of Y Combinator starting next batch. I’ll continue to do office hours with startups, but Sam is going to lead YC.

Why the change? Because YC needs to grow, and I’m not the best person to grow it. Sam is what YC needs at this stage in its evolution.

I’m convinced there’s a fundamental change happening in the way work gets done. It’s becoming normal to start a startup. There will be a lot more startups in 10 years than there are now, and if YC is going to fund them, we’ll have to grow proportionally bigger.

Of all the people we’ve met in the 9 years we’ve been working on YC, Jessica and I both feel Sam is the best suited for that task. He’s one of those rare people who manage to be both fearsomely effective and yet fundamentally benevolent–which, though few realize it, is an essential quality in early stage investing. Sam is one of the smartest people I know, and understands startups better than perhaps anyone I know, including myself. He’s the one I go to when I want a second opinion about a hard problem. And his association with Y Combinator is only about a month shorter than mine, because he was one of the founders in the first batch we funded, in 2005.

So when Sam became available in 2012, I started trying to recruit him. It took me over a year, but eventually I succeeded.

YC should feel the same to the startups we fund. Office hours are the way founders interact with me, and I’ll still be doing those. In fact, since I’ll only be doing office hours and not also worrying about running YC, I’ll probably be able to give better advice.


Credit: https://genius.com/Paul-graham-sam-altman-for-president-annotated