Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 14:28
"In a multitude of people is a king's glory, but in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin."
Remember that Solomon is trying to teach leadership principles whenever he mentions a king. He wants to teach people how to be effective, wise leaders. He uses the word king to be the clue that we are talking about a leadership principle.
Therefore when he uses the word king, it is a clue that he is talking about more than the leader of a country. We are about to be asked to ponder a key insight into leadership.
The insight this time is that leadership requires followers or those that have been influenced by the leader. If a person proclaims him/herself to be a leader or they have the title of leader in an organization but they have no one following or very few people following, then their lack of leadership has been exposed.
Solomon paints a vivid picture that we can all relate to: A leader with a huge group of people waiting to hear from the leader and do what they say. This swells the leader with pride and security that they are leaders. On the other hand, Solomon says who hasn't seen the "leader" in training or waiting – the prince – and seen that no one is following him. This second person is waiting to have the title so that people will have to follow them. But even if they get the title, it does not make them a leader.
Leaders have people following them. In order to be a leader you have to be able to persuade others that what you think ought to happen should be done over the other possibilities of what could be done. How are you going to do that? It is much more than whether your ideas are right. It has to do with whether people like you. It has to do with whether others feel like you have benefited them in the past. It has to do with whether they can see how they will get a win in this idea of yours. It has to do with your ability to paint a believable and highly desirable future with your idea. It has to do with convincing key people to join your idea early.
Solomon is saying that leadership is not position; it is others having bought into following you.
I know many people who have leadership titles: foreman, pastor, boss, manager, lead man, executive; but very few people are following them. In order to be a really effective leader you must develop relational skills, not just technical skills.
Solomon is saying that having a title doesn't make you a leader.
Solomon may have been looking at his sons and realizing that his son who would inherit the throne of Israel did not know how to have people follow him. Rehoboam proved that in the first real decision he made. He decided to increase taxes because he could, as king, instead of choosing to connect the people to him so that he could lead them. His bad leadership caused a permanent split between the two sections of Israel.
Remember: You are not a leader just because your title says you are. You are a leader when the number of followers you have says you are a leader.