One of the great myths about leadership is that it is a forever kind of assignment. Part of this is because we have such a low measuring stick for how someone gets constructive criticism. In many circles, you have to do something super bad in order to get fired. That's not good.
Another myth is that it springs out of having a title. Manager. Director. Sir. Mam. Father. Reverend. Rabbi. Most titles exist to put distance between people and the leaders. You can often spot a humble leader when she/he is comfortable with other people using their first name. I often struggle with this as a school leader. I prefer my first name but also realize that there are some times when it's actually more effective to allow someone to use my last name.
The worst myth, by far is the myth that leadership is something to be protected at all costs. This comes from a scarcity model to be sure. It also reveals a mindset of fear- "if I lose my post, what will happen?" All of this is a very sad and we see it over and over again.
Look at the members of Congress. Many would rather be re-elected than be principled or courageous. They act as if the world will stop if they aren't re-elected. Many who have lost have become more effective at creating change than when they held the title of Senator or House Member.
Even in Christian circles, scandal after scandal has shown that leaders would rather prevent bad press than do the right thing. News flash: when you are more concerned with keeping something out of the paper than with doing the right thing, your leadership is in trouble.
So I'm thinking today about work and how one ought to be protective of it in a healthy sort of way. Cut through the myths as we've laid them out above and let's talk about what we know to be true about leadership:
1. Leadership is temporary.
2. Leadership takes guts.
3. Leadership isn't always popular.
4. Leadership ought to be aligned with the truth.
5. Leaders serve others.
6. Leadership looks for the good of the organization.
In order to wrap your arms around these six beliefs, great leaders have shown that a certain sheath is important to be built around their leadership role. This can also be seen as a scaffolding of sorts. Think of it as a support system to keep you fresh and healthy as a leader.
Six corresponding actions that we can take to match action to belief include:
1. Leadership is temporary. EMBRACE THIS BY PLANNING FOR YOUR NEXT LEADERSHIP ROLE.
2. Leadership takes guts. EMBRACE THIS BY ANTICIPATING PUSH-BACK ON YOUR NEXT BIG DECISION.
3. Leadership isn't always popular. EMBRACE THIS BY BEING OK WITH DISAGREEMENT.
4. Leadership ought to be aligned with the truth. EMBRACE THIS WITH AN INVENTORY OF HOW PEACEFUL YOU FEEL WITH A TOUGH DECISION.
5. Leaders serve others. EMBRACE THIS BY TAKING OUT THE TRASH, PAYING COMPLIMENTS AND DOING THE LITTLE THINGS.
6. Leadership looks for the good of the organization. EMBRACE THIS EACH TIME YOU MAKE A PERSONNEL DECISION.
Each of us is probably more of a leader than we give ourselves credit for. And less of one too if we're honest. By embracing action with belief, you'll maintain your leadership for the long haul and make one heck of a difference along the way.
Question: which of the six things we know resonates most with you?
Photo courtesy of FMM.