I want to take a moment to examine the heart, character, inner thoughts and motives of one who desires to lead. This is a helpful practice that we each ought to engage in on a regular basis. Without self-examination, accountability and attention to moral development even the best of leaders will slowly drift and become overtaken by the allure of power, pleasure, greed and self-satisfying behaviors.
At the heart of every leadership attitude and behavior should be the inherent desire to help our fellow humans. Leadership is not some kind of encapsulated behavior that gets things done without human interaction or personal influence. Instead leadership is with and for people. Leadership is for the purpose of getting something done (for the purpose of the greater good of humanity) or for the purpose of shaping and influencing someone (for the purpose of the greater good of that person). And so we must examine our own hearts.
Why do I lead?
Much of the time we lead others because it is part of our job description. In some way, shape or form our position requires us to “lead” a group of people in order to get a job done for the organization for which we work. However, if we begin digging down, we may begin to realize that our motivation for working with others is much more compulsory and not purely motivated. If we see people as a “necessary evil” we have missed the mark of leadership. If we see staff meetings and personal interaction with team members as obligatory we have missed the point of leadership and could be quickly sliding towards self-promotion.
What am I trying to do?
In all things at all times a leader’s motives and behaviors ought to be for the greater good of the individual or of humanity rather than simply putting another notch in our own belt. When we work for the greater good of others we shouldn’t care who gets the credit and should actually prefer if those we are leading are praised; when our teams are winning then we are “succeeding” in in our leadership task. The apostle Paul in the Bible said that his joy was complete because those he was leading were doing well. In other words if our motivation is right and our leadership is truly others focused, then we ought to celebrate their wins, mourn their losses, and constantly build them up, When our thoughts begin drifting towards what we deserve, and our busyness, and our struggles our leadership will shift and actually begin to cave in on itself.
So this day, this week, take some time to examine how the work you do helps another human being or humanity at large. Look at your heart and see if you are truly trying to help others or if you are settling for lesser motivations. Take time to ask yourself and others if your organization is truly seeking what is best for others or whether something else is your bottom line. Being others focused is crucial to the character and effectiveness of a leader and the greater good of humanity.
Photo credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] / Foter / CC BY
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