Today I am beginning a blog/podcast series on the topic of leadership and coaching. You may listen to the Podcast version of this post here. Leadership and related topics will be the subject of most of my forthcoming podcasts. I will continue to blog on various topics related to Christian living, church life, and even leadership on my blog at takingheavenbystorm.com. For my first topic I have chosen the issue of the purpose of leadership.
What is the purpose of leading and being a leader. I think many people assume and lead as if leadership was about them. I was talking with a woman the other day about her growing success as a leader, and she humbly responded that she couldn’t have done it without a lot of other people around her. I responded by saying that it wouldn’t be leadership if there weren’t other people around taking part in whatever effort was undertaken. We can’t call what we do leadership if it isn’t influencing others and isn’t building a cooperate effort. She immediately recognized the truth in this. She was a leader exactly because other people where following and supporting her in a cooperate effort.
People who focus on themselves when they think about leadership have it all wrong. They think that if they lead well then they will achieve some personal gain: recognition, promotion, wealth, etc. Unfortunately, these people rarely really lead well. The reason behind that assessment is that in their leadership success thy very rarely make others better or make the community stronger. They rarely leave anything behind that outlast them and stands as a self-sustained legacy of their leadership.
Leaders recognize that leadership is about the community being lead, it is about the people following the leader. They know and are driven by the recognition that being a leader means that when the day is over the lives of other people are better than they were to begin with. A goal has been reached that makes the community stronger, the company more durable and lasting, and the individuals involved personally and professionally better and more deeply satisfied.
In my opinion, what this means is that true leaders are others focused. They gain satisfaction on investing in others, helping others grow and achieve great things. They see their role at the top as a servant’s role. They believe that even though they are in charge, they are there and actually have that authority because they care about people and are happy to give themselves up for others. There are other characteristics that make a leader good, but to focus on making other people and their lives better is a bedrock characteristic. If you don’t lead with such a focus, you are managing, but you aren’t leading. There is a big difference between the two. On which side of the paradigm do you stand?