I have been running into a common theme lately: Leadership is not all about what you (as the leader) may want. Leadership is not about always getting your way. It is about casting a vision in front of people and then working with them to take your initial vision and turn it into something that everyone can take ownership in. Leadership is about seeing the next place you need to go as a group, and then having everyone get there together.
What do I mean? If I come to you with an idea that I have and ask for your help, but don’t allow you to have any input, will you be invested in the outcome of my idea? Not really. You would simply be helping me with one of my crazy ideas, and upon its completion would have very little lasting impact in your life.
Now, take the same scenario and tweak it a little bit. I have an idea that I bring to you. I tell you what I am wanting to do with it. I ask for your help, your advice, and your active input. You are excited about the idea and want to become a part. My idea has now become our idea. We work on it together. When we are finished, I doubt that it looks much like what I initially brought to you. The idea has changed…many times for the better.
Many years ago I worked in a small church setting. I was a youth pastor with a lot of energy and self proclaimed “brilliant” ideas. I did not understand the principle I have described above. I believed it was my responsibility to tell everyone else what we needed to be doing. What did I get in return? Leaders who did not know where we were going, or trust that I could get them there.
I was too arrogant to admit that I didn’t know where we were going. I was the leader. I was going to get us there. Wherever there was. Had I joined with them and gave up the need to have things my way, who knows the good things we would have been able to accomplish together? It was a missed opportunity, but a step in my education of what leadership is.
Fast forward twenty years. I am in a leadership role with a business group that I am associated with. I believe in the mission and purpose of the organization. I believe what in what we stand for. I feel the need to lead. However, I don’t feel the need to always have my way. I am eager to meet with people and hear their vision about what we are doing.
As the group’s leader, I want to share my vision and then work with them to get to a place that was better than any of us intended when we began. I want the organization to be better after my time as a leader is gone. I want others to want to step in and take the vision ever further. If I can accomplish this, I will feel like I have done what I am supposed to.