Monday, January 28, 2013
The Most Important Aspect of Leadership
Stories of such self-serving leaders may make news today, but they are not especially new. More than 2,500 years ago, through the prophet Ezekiel, God rebuked the leaders of Israel for caring about themselves rather than the people they led. Using the imagery of shepherding, the Lord accused the "shepherds" of Israel of tending themselves rather than their "flock" (34:2-3). They took advantage of the people in their charge in order to benefit personally. "You don't strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost," God said. Rather, "you use force to rule them with injustice" (34:4). For this reason, the Lord would soon remove the leaders of Israel, rescuing his people from their self-serving corruption.
Ezekiel 34 challenges those of us who have been granted authority or influence to consider our intentions and practices. Are we truly seeking to serve those whom we lead? Or is our leadership really motivated by self-interest? Do we ever choose that which is best for the organization we lead even if it is not the best for us personally? Or are we always secretly calculating what will benefit us the most?As I read that I wonder if the first sign of self-serving leadership is the use of coercion - or even absent coercion, insistence on having one's way? Think about it for a minute - a leader serves the organization, the organization does not serve the leader.
But I also think there is a more subtle form of self-service in leadership - let's call it the "ego rush." Being in the spotlight, having attention focused on oneself, that can feel very good. It is a form of affirmation - and we all crave affirmation. There is fine line here, one must look comfortable in that spotlight to be effective, but one cannot enjoy it too much - and certainly one cannot demand it.
I think that is something for pewsitters to think about - if you are sitting there thinking, "It would be fun to do that," you might need to think again.
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