A good friend of mine tells me this story about Gandhi:
Apparently Gandhi was visiting a city to give a lecture to an organization he supported. Yet none of them knew what he looked like, so when he arrived, no one recognized him. He entered their building, and amidst the apparent turmoil of people preparing for the event, he noticed that a certain area of the floor needed sweeping. So he found a broom and began sweeping. And when they finally realized who he was, they asked him, dumbfounded, 'Why are you doing such a menial task?'. Gandhi replied, 'Because it needed to be done'.
Great leaders have the ability to choose NOT to lead.
The best leaders are the ones who can see what's happening, spot the blanks and FILL IN THOSE BLANKS.
If you need someone to plan - they'll do it.
If you need someone to take notes - their pen is out.
If you need someone to sell - they're up and giving the pitch.
And, as quite inevitably happens, the moment you need someone to lead, you realize that they're already doing it.
The challenge for the leader is to play this utility role - to avoid the trap of feeling entitled to the manager position. True leaders do not need the power or authority - they just want the group to succeed in its goals, and to this end, they merely DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.