“Leadership is a choice! It is not a rank! I know many people at the senior most levels of organisations who are absolutely not leaders; they are authorities and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them; and I know many people who are at the bottoms of organisations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”
— Simon Sinek
What resonates to our core – without a single exception – is the leadership we have been under; in the home, in our schools, and in our workplaces as well as the leadership we have been exposed to in the community, outward to society. Those most inspiring of people – save none – have been the inspiring leaders who have sacrificed themselves for those they lead. They have understood the Gospel paradox! – Whether they were Christian or not!
The greatest leaders – certainly those that inspire – I would say – are Christian; they have adopted Christ and surely the Holy Spirit leads them. And without getting into some contentious theological debate that sends us in all sorts of inordinate directions, let us just pause and thank God for those leaders who put themselves last.
As Simon Sinek says, “Leaders eat last.” That is the officer tradition in the military; they know the troops need feeding. The troops are doing the most important work; when the troops are blessed to go first they note the example that is being set them.
Such a leadership example cannot be lost on people – it is so countercultural it abounds within the minds and hearts of those who witness it.
A Choice, Not a Rank
Leadership that bugs us is nepotistic. It looks after those who have been given favour. It looks after those on that leader’s side. It is highly partial. It looks after itself and not the team. It grates in our inner beings and is even divisive there, let alone within a team at crunch time. All teams work okay when the heat is off, but when the pressure and temperature increase, and the dynamics of stress begin to expand, all those divisions start to extrude and that leader’s kingdom begins to collapse. Bad leadership is all about the leader.
But when a person makes a choice to stand for another, especially in a quiet and unnoticed way, that person is behaving like a leader.
Leadership. It’s not rocket science, but it is an inherently loving thing. It is not a fearful thing having to protect its own interest.
Most of us would swap jobs and take pay cuts to work for a good leader who gets that leadership isn’t all about authority, but appropriate and consistent sacrifice.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.