Thoughts on Leadership

Colin Powell, retired Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said that “being responsible sometimes means [really
upsetting] people”.

Good leadership means that you will never
please everyone. To modify an old saying, “you can
please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the
time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time”.

Quality leadership is not identified by how
happy the team is but by the quality of the team and the quality of the team’s
achievements. Great leaders inspire great men and women
to accomplish great things. Mediocre leaders stifle greatness in the
team. That is because leaders reproduce themselves.

Powell points out that;

“Good leadership
involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some
people will get angry at your actions and decisions… Trying to get everyone to
like you is a sign of mediocrity: you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll
avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid
offering differential awards based on differential performance because some
people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on difficult choices, by
trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally “nicely”
regardless of their contribution, you’ll simply ensure that the only people
you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the

So, what does this mean in practice? Well
firstly, upsetting people in and of itself is not a sign of great leaders
because as can be seen from Powell’s comments, bad leaders will get good people
upset. In practice leaders can expect opposition.
It is where that opposition comes from that needs to be addressed.

People will get angry with you and oppose
you for a variety of reasons, so ensure the reasons are worthy. That is, are
people angry with you because of good leadership or poor leadership? John C.
Maxwell’s book “Developing the leader within you” will go a long way to helping
you with this question.

A good leader understands that everything
is about people. Any vision, plan or task begins and ends with people.
Achievement begins with a group singularly committed to the
same outcome and culminates when together they reach the goal.
leaders will value the team, and be committed to their success.

Good leaders have a clear
picture of a preferred future (vision) and they empower likeminded
people to affect that future. People who do not want to
go may be nice people but they will be a hindrance if you try to take them with

Good leaders let go of people who do not
share the common vision. Mediocre leaders will compromise the vision in a
effort to keep/please “everyone”. Often, when people leave, questions of
“value” invariably arise. The value of people is not determined by a common
vision. Good people pursue different objectives. Though Paul and Barnabas
stopped working together both remained productive leaders (Acts 15:36-41). Some leave because they lack the
required qualities and character. Others will leave because they have a
different vision.

Good leaders do not question their own
worth when people get angry and leave. Nor do they de-value those who leave.
They just let them go.

Good leaders reward creativity
and productivity as standards for others to rise to. In
Luke chapter 12 Jesus commends wise, productive service. Paul states that those
who serve well are worthy of “double honour” (1 Tim 5:17). In not rewarding excellence leaders
will create an atmosphere of mediocrity. Those who value excellence will
ultimately be the ones angered.

Leadership is not a
popularity ticket. It is a call to productive, creative achievement with men
and women of like-mind.

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