#307-2. To be a leader is to take responsibility for outcomes... good, bad or indifferent. This, more than any other characteristic or trait, is the mark of a leader.
-Thomas D. Willhite
#307-3. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
-John Quincy Adams
"Don't be idealistic" dismissively advises my pragmatist colleague.
"Think beyond the current reality" exhorts my boss.
My brain churns out inspiring visions while a pile of immediate To Dos stare at me and the same brain finds reasons why something is impractical when an eager subordinate suggests a new idea.
The first quote above brilliantly explains the contradictions—no easy resolution.
The second and third quotes highlight important attributes of leadership: sense of ownership and positively influencing other people. These have very little to do with one's position, title, age or experience.