Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I lack leadership skills or don’t enjoy leading people—I do. I’ve had a fair amount of success (along with many failures) over the years and receive tremendous satisfaction from leading. I’m sure you’re probably a pretty good leader in your own right and you enjoy what you do as well.
But leadership isn’t for me. And it’s not for you, either.
Let me explain. I’ve learned that leadership is for:
1. The organizations we serve – Our job as leaders is to help carry out the mission of whatever organization we serve. No matter the organization – business, school, non-profit, government, or even sports team – leaders are required to place the needs of the organization ahead of their own. The only reason our role exists is to serve the organization and its purpose.
2. The people we serve – The primary way we accomplish our leadership objectives for the organization is to serve the people we lead. Huh? “Serve the people we lead?” Isn’t that an oxymoron? Leadership is not about what you get but what you give. Do you give your team the big picture so they know how their work contributes to the goals of the organization? Do you give your team members direction and support to help them develop their competence and commitment? Do you give your people the tools, resources, and information they need to succeed at their jobs?
3. The people our organizations serve – Customers, clients, patients, voters, stakeholders…whatever you call them, they are the people who buy, use, consume, or are served by our organizations. Our leadership flows through a chain of service when we serve our organization by serving our people who in turn serve our customers. Without our customers our organizations have no reason to exist, and it’s because of them that we have the opportunity to lead in the first place.
4. The communities we serve – Our leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We aren’t only leaders at work, or school, or on the sports team. We are leaders in all areas of our lives, and since leadership is an influence process, any time we seek to influence the behavior of someone we are being a leader. The communities we serve range from our families, churches, and numerous volunteer organizations, all of which deserve the best of our time, talent, and treasure.
So, you can see why leadership isn’t really for me…or you. Leadership is for others, and it’s meant to be used in service for the betterment of our organizations, team members, customers, and communities.