LAST night, like so many nights, is a concept for improvement, as we look back the following day. Such is life; a quest for learning and growth. Two concepts we may centre upon in revising how yesterday either worked or didn’t work are these: professional will and personal humility:
“Professional Will looks in the mirror, not the window to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck; Personal Humility looks out of windows, not the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company — to other people and good luck.”
— Jim Collins, Good to Great
Collins is the leadership guru of the time. His book charts the things that leaders of good-to-great organisations did in taking their companies from expected performance levels to excelling. And such wisdom just makes sense, doesn’t it? It works.
More or less along the same lines of having personal success in one’s life, professional will is the courage to own bad results whilst personal humility showers others in the praise deserved. These are two essential attributes in all functionally safe and superior leaders, because, yes, leaders must first be safe people before they can be superior in their leadership for the group they lead.
Good Leaders Are Safe People
What makes a good leader safe is they’re consistently fairer than they even ought to be; thus they’re inspiring. They take more responsibility for the failures of their team than is really fair, but they do so in a dignified way. They wear the brunt of the failure without being crushed by it. They can be meek in failure without their self-esteem taking a blow. And they’re quicker than light speed to reflect credit for achievements onto others, and not just others they like, and they do this in authentic and believable ways.
Good leaders have professional will, to bear the brunt of failure and mistakes, whilst also having personal humility, which resists pride’s opportunity to take the credit when others deserve the praise. Because they’re always giving these people are safe people. They’re reliable and trustworthy, and, given the dearth of good leadership in our post postmodern day, are as priceless as they’re also rare.
The good leader is always thinking of others and, hence, their world expands into a multiplicity of directions; their ministry is blessed in many secret ways known only to the Lord.
Perhaps this is why many people like a book like the 2013 book, The Tortoise Usually Wins. Its author, Dr Brian Harris, commends to the world the industry and care of the quiet leader whilst the world is all awash, gushing for the leader with guile and charismata. Little does the church suspect, that leaders without character don’t last in the secular environment. And from my vantage point the church has been deceived. There’s little good betting on a limping horse. Their time catches up with them. The writing is on the wall for the leader who prefers to implicate others in the blame whilst fixing themselves and their favoured ones on the success of others.
The real leader is busy elevating others at the time of praise, and just as quick to accept the blame when things don’t go right. Good leaders understand that it’s the system that needs to be fixed, not the people. Good leaders also understand it’s the people who radiate the light of inspiring innovation, not the system.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.