Success and great leadership go hand in hand. That is why organizations, sports teams and even countries can continue to excel or flounder years and years after they were originally founded. The "players" may come and go but the culture of excellence exuded by leaders permeates the "team".
Tragically many who have the potential for great leadership lack the skills (or might we say ruthlessness) needed to actually reach the top, whereas those who are excellent at climbing, for example, the corporate ladder have little to offer once they reach the top. The myriads of books and analysis on leadership speak to the difficulty we have in cultivating the right models of leadership. And of course there is no one model, with different times, places and conditions calling for different types of leaders. Even the greatest of all leaders Moshe Rabbeinu - who in today's world would be laughed out of town if he aspired to leadership - was not the right leader to take the people into the land of Israel (see commentary of the Netziv Bamidbar 13:2). It would be Yehoshua , the army general who so successfully led the war against Amalek years earlier - who would be chosen to help conquer the land. The phenomenon of military leaders achieving political leadership is quite common today, yet military might in and of itself is not enough of a basis for leadership and Yehoshua offered much more.
While great leaders often handpick their own successors Moshe went one better. He asked G-d to choose. Apparently Moshe did not even have a suggestion of whom to choose - should it be Pinchas the zealous defender of morality who by decisively taking matters into his own hands brought an end to the plague that killed 24,000 Jews; Calev the spy who (more so than Joshua) argued so passionately that the Jews should faithfully continue their march to the promised land. Perhaps it should be Elazar the son of Aaron who served as the high priest -or possibly even a young unknown who possessed the charisma and vision to lead the people in their new homeland.
" Yifkod Hashem , Let Omnipotent G-d of all living souls appoint a leader over the community" (27:13). One could argue that the requirements for leadership were embodied in this opening work yifkod . Yifkod from the root PKD brings to mind four different but complimentary meanings, each one reflecting a key component of leadership.
"And G-d pakad , remembered Sarah as He said He would" (Breisheet 21:1) marks the first time the root pkd appears in the Torah. A leader must be cognizant of the patriarchal covenant, that we have a divine mission to make this world a better place. Whatever the challenges, difficulties and tragedies facing the Jewish people a leader must never lose sight of the ultimate goal. "Joseph said to his brothers; I am dying, Pakod yifkod ethchem Elokim , G-d will grant you special providence and bring you out of this land to the land the He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Breisheet 50:24). Leaders must look beyond our own time on earth and prepare the nation for their glorious future, and inspire the nation to do the same.
Pakod means to count - in fact our Sages refer to Sefer Bamidbar as chumash pkudim the book of counting with its two very detailed censuses of the Jewish people. A leader is one for whom every Jew counts and has a role to play. (Whatever one's feeling regarding the appropriateness of the hostage exchange this week it is clear that for the Jewish people every soldier is so special even if they are tragically no longer living.) "When you take a census ...they will not be stricken by the plague b'fkod otam , when they are counted. Making sure every Jew counts is the way to prevent plagues, both internal and even external ones.
The importance of each Jew is also reflected in a further meaning of pkd . A pikadon is an object given to someone to guard and the shomer , guardian is responsible for any damages caused by negligence. To lead the Jewish people is to carefully watch over them, as a parent to a child concerned with their physical and spiritual well being.
Finally a pekudha is a command, a duty which must be fulfilled. Woe to the Jewish people who are led by those who act based on polls, popularity and political correctness. There are jobs to be done and duties to be fulfilled. A leader must go beyond the call of duty thereby inspiring the populace to meticulously follow the Divine command.
Meeting these criteria is no simple matter. May we be blessed with those who "involve themselves in the needs of the community faithfully". Shabbat Shalom!