I’m not sure if it’s American, Western, or simply Human society that is so obsessed with leadership, but we are. I suppose we have good reason for it in many ways. Leadership develops naturally from the time we are infants. It just happens.
However, when as adults we clamor for others to take control, I think we have a problem, a problem of absolution. What?! Yes, many folks wish to absolve themselves from responsibility. You know the scenario — passing the buck. The ultimate statement of a leader in many folks’ eyes is “The buck stops here” (Harry Truman). Because so many people seem to desire to flee responsibility, leaders are in short supply, good leaders are even more difficult to find, and great leaders — well, they are rare indeed.
If I paused here, would you take a guess as to why people don’t want responsibility for making decisions, creating excellence without observation, developing teams, or any of a thousand leadership topics? Yep, you got it. The mass of humanity lives under the domination of Ego as their primary operating system rather than choosing Heart. As adults, if many more made that choice to know who they are and create their own purpose, then we would not be scrambling for others to take responsibility and risk, because remember this, Ego hates risk if Heart has initiated it.
The alternate Ego scenario, though, is Ego will urge soem people to take responsibility if they stand to profit greatly, be recognized, be significantly rewarded, be important, be powerful and in control. Then, Ego is a huge problem, for leaders motivated in that Ego mode become dangerous in one way or another, to a greater or lesser degree. Leaders who operate with Heart, though, make up a far rarer breed.
However leaders process their life and make decisions, certain qualities define true leadership, which means anyone can be a great leader. I want to make a few brief and limited comments about only one aspect of leadership: trust.
I appreciate the interpreted words of Lao Tzu and the analysis by various authors. John Heider is well known, and he observes and draws much from Lao Tzu’s Te Ching. Heider shares this from Lao Tzu: “The wise leader does not make a show of holiness or pass out grades for good performance. That would create a climate of success and failure. Competition and jealousy follow.” I see this as applied to teachers, primarily because I was one, am one in some ways, still.
I am of the opinion that great teachers are great leaders, and they could step into almost any leadership role in business or government and function infinitely better than many leaders do now. Of course, I imply a corollary here: great teachers don’t give a shit about grades, because great teachers know that grades are meaningless in terms of measurement or in terms of mastery. Also, teachers gain no modicum of trust if they proceed to prove how wonderful and intelligent they are.
Teachers must create a team, convince them that they are capable of learning and creating, and clearly communicate the objectives and goals, and ensure the skills and concepts needed to perform are modeled to students— every single day. If you are running a business and aren’t intimately acquainted with and practicing these and their corollaries and methods — every single day — then you’ve got some learning to do.
Do you know how teams of classes that function well happen? Through a relationship of trust, to a large extent. Followers, workers, or students, trust the leader because the leader invests in them — invests knowledge and talents and confidence and encouragement that are appropriate to the objectives. Beyond that, such leadership investment is founded on a genuine care for and connection with individuals.
A great leader values the people above all. Being a boss, preserving a reputation, garnering a profit at any expense, or putting organization before people is lousy-ass leadership.
And this brings me back to where I started. A great leader knows the people must take responsibility, ultimately, by knowing themselves, their own strengths, talents, and ability to execute, i.e., the people have to accomplish the goals and fulfill the objectives. In fact, another well-known quote of Lao Tzu says, “A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst whey they despise him. Fail to honor people, and they fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say ‘We did this ourselves.’” Responsibility is fulfilled based on a trust relationship with a leader who understands the value of individuals. A great leader brings followers to a place of knowing self and creating purpose. In other words, a great leader acts on the same basis as Heart.
Not very many great leaders can be found. When they are, they are maligned by poor leaders or sometimes allow their egos to take over. I’m not trying to make this bleak; I’m simply pointing out the only safeguard for preserving great leadership is to walk in fellowship with one’s own Heart and with those who do that in the Fellowship of the Heart.
In that sense, we choose our own leader; we show our understanding and wisdom when we choose Heart to guide, process, and filter life, to lead our ego, mind, soul, and body — our whole being — to a significant, fulfilled life.
Sound good? It’s go time!
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!