How I Underestimated Leadership

Over a decade ago, I found myself squinting at a lady twice my age as she was crying telling my partners and I that “Dallas doesn’t care about me – he doesn’t even say good morning when he comes in!” I hate to admit it, but she was partially right. My high octane working mentality made others feel like a unit of measurement. I once had come to the conclusion that if you clearly identified employee’s responsibilities into quantifiable measures and gave real-time data back to the employee, you would in essence govern them. Many factors of this practice are very useful; most people have a desire to know how they are performing. My error was undervaluing leadership. People have a yearning to be led, not governed. Governing and policing activities drain energy whereas leading creates energy. The tendency to police arises when you don’t clearly define goals and objectives. Concerns of who checked their personal email or took a personal phone call vanish in a well-led, results-driven environment.

I avoided leadership because I believed it consisted of saying just the right words, at the right time, with the right passion, almost like a football coach before a game, and that felt fake or rehearsed to me. After all, our staff was not bleeding and about to charge the field with minutes left to play. However, now I believe part of leadership is caring more for the person than the value they bring to your organization, and the more you care the better leader you will be. Jesus answered his disciples’ questions about how to become a leader plainly by saying, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). This teaching flips the coin of our conventional leadership thinking. Leading in this manner has nothing to do with the leader themselves, and everything to do with those who were being led. To evaluate yourself as a leader you need look no further than your team. Are the ones around you thriving and being served, or is it only you?

What say you?

3 thoughts on “How I Underestimated Leadership

  1. Your last line is so powerful!! So many leaders “lead” but no one is moving forward but themselves.. Do you make those around you better for your leadership.. Great post, hope others read and evaluate themselves as leaders..

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