March 20, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
News from Japan grows darker by the hour, and happenings in the Middle East and Northern Africa tell no better story.
All raise questions about the meaning of real leadership, the trust and transparency that must be part of all healthy leader-follower relationships, and the importance for leaders to accept their responsibility to serve the larger good before they serve themselves.
It is tempting when title or influence dub us the leader to think that the job is all about us: what we want, what we can do, what we want others to do. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A leader’s work is to put ego and self aside so as to facilitate the power and possibility of shared commitment, shared vision, and creative solutions to nagging problems that are better than any a leader or a follower working alone could devise.
That’s the magic at the heart of leadership. Two (or more) heads are always better than one.
When leaders serve for personal gain, when they deny others the honest information or influence they need, when leaders act to preserve their power and pockets, when they make decisions to guard their reputations or ego at the expense of others, they are far outside the leadership realm.
Let’s not forget that truth. We see it so clearly today in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and other Middle Eastern hotspots. And when we look closely at the crisis in Japan, there are plenty of questions about the lack of transparency and about how and why decisions are being made (or haven’t been made thus far).
It’s easier to judge when we stand as critics, viewing crisis or deadly conflicts from afar and evaluating the choices and ethics of the leaders involved. But what about how we enact our own everyday leadership?
How will we remember that leadership is all about responsible service? If we do, we’ll avert our own crises – and deny our critics the pleasure of all those negatives judgments from afar.