“Great leaders know what they want and they know how to get it.”
Modern organizational culture seems to reward those leaders who use people to get things. Rewarding through promotions, raises, authority, more power. But the message that gets communicated is that of selfishness and manipulation—the end justifies the means.
Human relations can be authentic and compassionate, or they can be cajoling and manipulative. So in order for leaders to be both effective and respected, their job can’t just be to manipulate people to get them to be more productive. While leaders may be gaining the whole world, they may very well be losing their souls.
There are those leaders throughout history who have been feared because of their power and ability to influence the masses, people like Hitler, Mao, Lenin, Caesar, and Nero. Clearly, these individuals were feared, not out of respect and loyalty, but out of terror that if someone were to disagree with their view, they could be killed. Followers were bound under the tyranny of fear, under the self-centered and myopic view these leaders had, seeking only to aggrandize themselves and demonstrate power rather than serve the interests of their followers, liberating them through their own abilities. The wisdom of the phrase “power corrupts” is only eclipsed by the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
“Great leaders know what they have and they know how to give it away.”
In contrast to the egotistical and selfish ambition of leaders like these is another phrase: “great leaders know what they have and they know how to give it away.” At the heart of this orientation to leading others is service and humility. Sacrifices have long been understood to be the stuff of leaders, especially when the job requires them to work long hours, to miss their kids’ ball games or music concerts, or to miss their wedding anniversary due to business travel. But sacrificing a part of self for the illusion of successes in material things is a deception that many leaders have been seduced to follow.
How can you avoid the slow death of selfishness? Here’s a short list that will guide you on your journey toward unselfishness:
“You can never control what you get, only what you give.”