details may be slightly changed to protect the guilty. grow up and don’t spend your time trying to figure out who i’m talking about. really.
i know a leader of a particular organization that doesn’t get it.
he is an awesomely gifted leader. brilliant thinker. incredibly creative. he has layers of education and experience. he heads a great team of people. he is highly esteemed among his peers. people who hold similar positions in other organizations look to him as a model of leadership excellence.
he is ascending the ladder of success in his field. he is well paid and has a ton of influence. his organization reflects his personality and, by all accounts, has an extremely loyal and well-oiled group. he is confident…bold…aggressive… assertive…driven…and passionate. his staff reflects his style.
and he is totally clueless.
he leads his organization by fear and intimidation. his people are scared of making mistakes. he micro-manages most every part of the team flow. workers are told exactly how they are to complete their tasks…according to his specifications. there is no grace. there is no freedom to question authority. there is no possibility of defense in the face of accusation.
it is leadership bullying with a smile. he thinks he is leading a happy, devoted set of workers. he is skilled at surface motivation. in spite of loads of success and all the trappings of accomplishment, the organization has lost its heart. relationships are strained. trust is not freely given, but painfully earned.
i could go on, but you get the point. he doesn’t really know how his people feel about him. there is no open conduit to express it. he doesn’t listen. he doesn’t empathize. there is no possibility for give and take. it is hierarchy at its worst. it is leadership by power…by title…by position…by fear.
and i really don’t think he sees it. i’m not in his inner circle and have no place to enter his life with friendship and accountability. i wish i did. he needs gentle confrontation and firm accountability. he desperately needs a trusted friend who can get inside his heart. but honestly, i don’t see it happening. his organization is too successful and the culture there doesn’t seem to value that kind of openness.
and as long as the organization continues to flourish, who would ever dare challenge his leadership? we live in a world where ends justify means. as long as we are successful, we will put up with just about anything. in our culture, the path to winning is filled with rock-star leaders and littered with broken, hurt people who are deemed acceptable collateral damage.
the story is the same in politics, sports, education, the church, marriage, business…wherever power is allowed to replace servanthood…wherever the end has more value than the journey…and wherever the intoxication of self-centeredness and pride is given room to grow.
good leaders lay down their lives for others. they don’t require others to lay down and become stepping stones for our journey upward.
if you’re a leader, anywhere…of any kind, get your act together.