One of the great things about being in a lot of places with a lot of different kind of leaders is that there are times when you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Unexpectedly, you find some gold nuggets.
For me, those times are when someone who’s a great leader, though unknown outside of a rather small circle of people, decides that it’s the right moment to share an insight with you that they didn’t read in a blog or a book—they discovered it in the crucible of life.
Often, this is an insight that the person has carried inside their heart for a long time. It’s something that they have silently vetted in a number of different situations, but you get the distinct impression that it’s not something that they have articulated very often.
When you come up on one of those moments, it’s like seeing an elk in the meadow or a deer along the walking path by the lake. You slow everything down and take it in. You just sort of sense that the only thing to do is to listen. Just listen.
That happened to me not long ago as a seasoned leader who is more than a few years older than me (and I’ll admit that makes him OLD!) opened up and said to me, “Here’s the three most important things that I’ve learned about working with boards, councils, and organizations.” There was a ring of truth to each one of them that caused them to stick with me. Here’s what he said.
- Insecure people are very vulnerable.
They are vulnerable to the anger and manipulation of people who have political and self-centered ambitions. They are afraid to stand for right because they fear that they will be identified with the “wrong” crowd. It’s hard to predict what an insecure person will do, but always beware that their insecurity will be the most powerful factor in their decision-making.
- Educated stakeholders become your champions.
Some managers are reluctant to educate Council Members or Board Members because they are afraid that they will use that information to attempt to take over operations. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s usually just the opposite. The more educated they are, the more likely it is that they won’t become overly involved in operations. Why? Because education enables them to also know what they don’t know—and that tends to restrain them from thinking, “It’s so easy anyone could do it!”
- Real leadership calls for service above self.
Sadly, many of the leadership examples we see today seem to put more emphasis on the glamour of the leader’s life. There’s a sense that leadership means perks and privileges. However, real leadership—the kind of leadership we need in every sector—is about subduing your own needs for the greater good of the organization, society, and other people.
Any government, organization, department, or team that has a leader that remembers these things is well on its way to becoming very successful. As John Maxwell has often said, “If you want to grow the organization, first you have to grow the leader.” Remember these things and the impact of your leadership will undoubtedly grow!