Over the last few months, I have found myself often wondering about leadership. Mostly inspired by confrontations I have had on the subject as well as everyday situations I find myself in that begs the question ‘Are we doing this right?’ I have come to the conclusion that true leadership is captured by the hearts of the brave.
You will probably giggle about this a little bit if you have been following my previous blogs, but over the last few years, I also spent plenty of time studying strategic management. Although not the topic today, due to its nature, I was exposed to a significant number of models on leadership from the autocratic, to the democratic, the relationship leader, to the motivational and inspirational leader, and then also hybrid systems such as situational leadership. These models are absolutely fantastic, and most if not all have great value and truth to them. (enter the controversial statement…) I am not interested in good models; I am interested in the perfect model, the whole truth. (“You want the truth?… You can’t handle the truth!!!” – resounding in my head as I type this :P)
Well, in my opinion… the truth is out there (X-files soundtrack in the background, ROFL). The reality is we have had the perfect model to leadership all along. It’s right there in the Bible, modelled by Jesus himself! In my previous blog, I mentioned that we missed our purpose. This has regrettably been transposed or caused by our understanding of leadership, depending on which way you lean.
The title of this piece is borrowed from a very fitting film I happened to watch again last night (If you believe in such things as coincidence) called Braveheart. An age old issue regarding leadership comes to the fore. One we still sit with today at all levels, be it political, religious, family life, social settings, straight across the board. What is it? In the words of John Acton “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” It is our greed, our selfish approach to all things. Leadership has become too much about the title, social standing, prestige, money. Leadership has become way too much about the leader. Leaders are often of the opinion that their power gives them the privilege to become self-serving, to act in their best interests. This is just what the Scottish noblemen do in Braveheart when they sell their loyalty to England in exchange for their own personal wealth.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Stan Lee (A point worth reiterating.) Jesus’ model for leadership, the perfect model for leadership, comes in here. Servant leadership. I’m sorry, what? Care to run that by me again? Sounded like you said ‘servant’?! (Still think you can handle the truth?) In the words of Jesus, “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Real leadership is not about the leader. Who would support such a petty cause? No, real leadership is always for a cause much greater. A true leader would always put his own needs below that of what his cause requires. William Wallace in Braveheart was such a man. He believed so immovably in his cause, his fight for freedom from tyranny, that he eventually paid with his life.
Leadership is sacrifice. Placing the cause above your own, working and living in service of the goal you wish to achieve. With this in mind, how many of our current leaders at any level would still be willing to hold an office with such immense responsibility, such immense sacrifice? How many leaders would still be leaders without the fancy houses, expensive cars, honour and respect they enjoy due to their titles? How many are so inspired by their own cause, that even if they had to be a commoner and die for it would pursue it none the less?
Reality check! The world is not perfect. We do not have as many servant leaders as we would like. There’s no point in conjuring up flawless models for leadership, not unless you can change the existing system to accommodate them. Here is where we all come in. Leadership is not the business of leaders. Leadership is the business of every single individual. Leadership is a sacrifice of self for that which we all strive to achieve together. Andy Stanley says “Are you taking responsibility for your own life?…. Your irresponsibility eventually becomes somebody else’s responsibility.” This is a call to all people. People that decide to take action and change the world for what they envision it could be, people like William Wallace, people like you and me…
This is a call to leadership. This is a call to the hearts of the brave!
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12