May 312015 0 Responses

Beware of Being the Leader

We need leadership. We can’t survive without it. While it is appealing to think we all function in the same role, show me an organization, company, or team without a leader and I’ll show you dysfunction.

Leadership is a basic need of any group desiring to accomplish a goal.

Yet human beings have a horrible track record of leadership.

It’s a dilemma. Leadership connotes a level of influence or power. They are necessary components to drive a group of people toward success. When handled well, we can maximize our potential to incredible levels.

However, humanity is greatly tempted whenever power or influence are offered. We are lured to abuse the power given to us and use it for ourselves.

It’s the great tension of leadership:

Authority is needed by humanity but humanity often abuses authority.

So what do we do? (See: Dangerous Leadership–When Power Intersects a Lack of Appreciation)

We can’t refuse leadership. We can’t be so terrified of making a mistake or falling for this temptation that we refuse to use our God-given skills to make the world better. This would be the route of a coward. While the intentions might be good, the results would be horrible. We must lead.

Yet as we lead, we must be diligent to recognize the temptation toward abuse and do everything in our power to protect ourselves and others from this negative possibility.

While abuse expresses itself in many forms, it has one main characteristic.

Authority is abused when a leader uses the very ones he is called to serve.

When we use others rather than serve others, we have crossed the line of abuse.

But it happens so subtlety. (See: Avoid this Corner at All Costs)

Rarely does a leader begin with this mindset. A few pursue leadership solely for the purpose of the notoriety, power, and belief that leaders should be served rather than serve. Most, however, approach leadership with an “other-centric” focus.

They are passionate about:

  • the mission
  • giving all they have for a higher purpose
  • serving others
  • making a difference
  • leaving a legacy

But something happens along the way. The excitement of the pursuit gives way to the mundane tasks required for accomplishment. Sacrifices are made which begin to weary the heart and soul of the leader. Betrayal occurs,whether by intention or inattention, feelings get hurt, and loneliness sets in.

In these moments a leader, every leader, runs the risk of making a slight change in mindset. While keeping a focus on the mission, she begins to think others should serve her as she pursues the mission rather than her serving others as they all pursue the mission.

It’s a change which occurs so internally and subconsciously that no leader even recognizes its presence when it first occurs. Yet this change has drastic consequences.

Using others rather than serving them can look the same to the untrained eye, but could not have more drastic of intentions. No leader has the right to use others. No person lacks such value and purpose that they deserve to be used. (See: Strong Character Is Built Through Significant Challenge)

Leaders must resist the temptation of making their business, church, or family solely about them. We must pursue something higher. We must seek the well-being of those we serve with a greater passion than our own well-being.

Three Ways a Leader Can Guard His/Her Heart:

1. Be keenly aware of your potential to do evil and keep a close gauge on your level of gratitude. When a leader loses their sense of gratitude they are at high risk to abuse others. Gratitude keeps us humble and gives us the desire to serve. Without it, we grow weary. Every person has the capacity to abuse others, especially when we are in roles of leadership. Awareness of our potential is the first step to guarding ourselves from acting in ways we do not want to act. (See: You Control What Matters Most)

2. Surround yourself with key people who have not only the ability, but also the expectation of telling you the truth. For most leaders, this begins with their spouse. While our husband or wife may not know the intricate details of the business we lead, they do know us. They know our weaknesses and temptations. They should regularly speak into our lives in how we are working, treating those around us, and regarding our attitude. For good leaders, this doesn’t stop with a spouse. It also includes select co-workers, close friends, and mentors.

3. Regularly submit yourself to the leadership of others. Several years ago I was asked to serve on a board of a local non-profit. After two meetings, I had a much different viewpoint of what was needed by the men and women who serve on the board which I lead. By switching roles, I was given a different perspective and better understood the needs of those I was called to lead. When we follow others, it will make us better leaders.

Leadership is a necessity and a privilege. Anytime we are given the opportunity to lead and show the courage to lead, we are attempting to make the world better. Yet leadership comes with several temptations. One of the main threats is unknowingly using the very ones we are called to serve. By resisting the temptation and guarding our hearts, we can lead and serve.

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