I’m often asked by officers, media and my college students about leadership. Seldom is asked what it takes to be led, or how to actually lead; but mostly when do “I get a chance to lead” or “I want to lead now.”
I appreciate the enthusiasm, and if sincere, the desire to offer themselves up for the sacrifice to lead others. Sacrifice? Did you say “sacrifice?” No one ever mentioned sacrifice. Guess what? Servant leadership requires sacrifice. You must understand that to lead, you must be willing to serve those who entrust you with the authority to make vital decisions.
Most look at the “What’s in it for me” aspect of being in charge. If you knew what was really, truly in it for you, most would never again ask to lead. Of course, as I mentioned, if sincere about the art, then leadership as everything altruistic in this life requires sacrifice.
I read a great article “Lonely at the Top” and it had me thinking about the years I prayed about serving in a leadership role without being fully aware of the toll.
I thought back to childhood games of sandlot football and drawing the plays in the dirt so others could score the touchdown, or high school adventures of staying back so others could attend an event. I was being spiritually and emotionally groomed to sacrifice.
Then I thought about my years supervising a narcotics task force and a SWAT unit. The moment I went from Agent to Commander, there was a distinct burden placed upon my spirit that has never lifted.
Leadership is not a hat to be taken on or off as the situation suits you. My burden is for the safety of the men and women I direct into dangerous scenarios, and the “perks” of that leadership is their safe return.
Don’t shy away from leadership opportunities, but once blessed by them, take them seriously and not from a posture of “who’s getting my coffee?” I’ve had some wonderfully humble and life-lessons leaders in my career. I’ve also known arrogant soul-stealers who took great pleasure in others grief.
There is a German phrase; Schadenfreude that describes someone who takes great pleasure from the misfortunes of others. The literal English translation would equal – “Harm-Joy.”
I don’t have to ask whether you know people like that, but I will challenge you to never, ever be that person. I told a class last week that one of the most hurtful things a human can do to the spirit of another is throw the cold water of despair upon another’s fire for life.
If you desire to lead; whether it’s a group of friends, an organization, a police department, or most importantly – your family, then do so with
– support and
Admit your mistakes, tell people you appreciate them and put others first. You may not have your coffee delivered into your office, but you’ll deliver a legacy of compassion, mentoring and honestly genuine servant leadership.
Leadership, Smeadership | Get your own coffee
- serve first (kendallmwilson.wordpress.com)
- Leadership is Sacrifice (thesixelement.wordpress.com)
- Q & A About Servant Leadership (ingoodhealthfdl.agnesian.com)
Categories: The Cultural Revolution
Amen. Very well stated and so little understood in our culture.
Wow. Thank you for the beautifully well-written and deep thinking article. Lots of food for thought to start the day. Thank you.
One of the sayings my first sergeant’s field trainer told me, “Don’t wear those stripes too much…if you are a leader, you won’t need them that much…”