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Reflection: Follow the Leader

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2 Show me a righteous ruler and I will show you a happy people. Show me a wicked ruler and I will show you a miserable people. – Proverbs 29:2 GNT

Author and leadership expert John Maxwell says that “everything rises and falls on leadership.”

Strong leadership leads to reconciliation, maturation, progress, and growth.

Weak leadership creates chaos, disappointment, bitterness, and abuse.

Righteous leadership serves the mission and the people.

Wicked leadership serves itself at the expense of the people.

The idea that people with ethical leaders are happier than those with unscrupulous ones is unsurprising.

What happens, though, when an upright leader comes to a people already unhappy, who operate in a culture of resentment and mistrust, particularly where it involves innovation?

What happens when a dishonest leader is charismatic enough to persuade people that self-serving schemes are actually altruistic and brilliant?

What happens when greed masquerades as honor?

As incoming leadership, our first challenges are often relational. We must build rapport with the people. We need to gain their trust, while working, also, to heal whatever wounds our predecessors, and their broken systems, have created. We may spend the first year(s) processing institutional trauma.

Outgoing leadership, meanwhile, especially if they didn’t choose to be outgoing leadership, may choose, cynically and spitefully, to set land mines for us to trigger. They may create obstacles to our success. They may sabotage systems that will allow them to point to their performance as better than ours, when the primary reason we are not yet achieving their results is that we are putting out the fires they set.

Some leaders are better at managing than marketing. They are so busy fixing things that they don’t spend time communicating to the people that things are fixed. And they lose in the court of popular opinion to people and organizations committed to magnifying failures, obscuring successes, and inventing imaginary problems.

We see this in politics, to be sure.

But we also see it in organizations large and small. We see it in schools and churches. We see it in families and clubs.

Someone’s reputation precedes them. Lucy is the smart one. Sarah is the star. Josh has a level head. Dave, on the other hand…

So when Lucy, Sarah, and Josh step up, we have one expectation. When it’s Dave’s turn, we’re already rolling our eyes. We’re already tuning out. Which may not be remotely fair.

When we expect one person to lead well, and have little faith in another, we may process their performance accordingly.

Sometimes we decide too soon. The judge hits the buzzer and then sees that the artist is actually good. The audience smells blood and boos the performer off the stage, right as they are starting to do something.

We will always come back to our four Cs

Character: we cannot buy it.

Chemistry: we cannot neglect it.

Competence: we cannot fake it.

Capacity: we need someone who can do the whole job

On the flip side

Charisma: we can’t depend on it.

Chicanery: only goes so far.

Coercion: will create compliance, not adherence.

Capital: It’s never enough.

The right leader will inspire us to rise to the challenge.

The wrong leader may take us where we don’t want to go.

Follow carefully.

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

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