In a Dreamforce keynote Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce.com) and Sir Richard Branson discuss, among other things, the concept of business. Sir Richard rightly insists upon the richness of the human element and the family spirit a business automatically creates. According to Sir Richard, letting employees go should only be considered in an extreme case, when a situation clearly becomes counter-productive to a company’s goals and purposes.
Treating people well is one of the keys to a 2.0 Enterprise philosophy. But regrettably too many companies, churches and associations rely on traditional hierarchy and do get things done within the traditional line of authority, while ignoring talents, potential leaders and resources among their own people. They too often achieve mediocre and unsatisfactory results, which in turn trigger inconveniences, inadequacies and frustrations among its members, co-workers and partners. Much better results and savings could have been considered and probably achieved would those leaders have just been willing to step aside, listen and consider!
Humility is a trait many leaders are not acquainted with. Many of them speak about it but few implement it in their own lives and responsibilities, preferring to rely on their own authority they themselves perceive as “skills and competencies”. Often those leaders think of themselves as altruistically-minded but in reality they are completely oblivious to their naïve arrogance, ignorance and selfishness while remaining blind to the pool of talent they often have within their very own reach! In the meanwhile people in companies, associations and churches suffer and have to weather the storm of bad results attached to poor and inadequate decision making processes and leadership.
An incredible example of leadership humility is to be found in the Bible when God Himself had already decided to destroy ancient Israel because of idolatry: Exodus 32:8. Moses respectfully argued with God, daring to ask Him to turn away from His fierce wrath and repent of the evil He wanted to pour out upon His people! The result? God changed His mind and did repent of the evil, which He thought to bring upon His people: Exodus 32:14. The Creator of the Universe humbled Himself in front of His very own creation (Moses) and changed His mind while listening to one of “His employees”! What an amazing trait of humility and gentleness despite the fact that an idolatrous crowd was behaving contrary to what had previously been agreed upon.
Too many leaders willingly prefer “average” results they themselves achieve on their own or with their “preferred” group of people than to genuinely search and source out talents they might not feel emotionally attracted to! Their own insecurity, fear and grip on authority forbids them to try new ways and involve members and hidden leaders they feel awkward and uneasy dealing with. They willingly or unwillingly refuse to forsake their own personal leadership comfort-zone!
I once had a fabulous mentor, teacher and leader, who in his old age would not let go; he did not train and surround himself with potential next-generation leaders. With loving intention, he nonetheless passively refused to secure the future of his own responsibilities and insisted on “holding the reins” until his death, leaving behind a chaotic vacuum.
Often seniority can gently corrupt. Leaders mean well but their views of themselves can become distorted because of rank, power to make decisions, and authority. It creeps upon them unaware while they earnestly and genuinely strive to remain humble; meanwhile they claim and defend their competency and experience because of their seniority while remaining unaware of their inadequacies and shortcomings.
Even good leaders can nonetheless remain selfish by not training and equipping the younger generation with the skills and wisdom they possess. Because of their notorious lack of patience, busy schedule, responsibilities and seniority they do not allow for appropriate training in order to equip and prepare the future generation, often jeopardizing an organisation’s future and its “family” members’ well-being. Similarly, where someone in authority fails to recognize the talents within the team, this unawareness motivates them to carry on with “business as usual”: after all “they have always done it this way”! What a waste of talent!
Are you a humble leader, passing on your skills to the younger ones? Are you intimidated by the strengths and talents of someone in your team or do you openly seek to unearth them?
Let us know how you are proceeding; we would love to hear from you!