Leadership, Authority, Power and Pride

21 09 2009

Those who continually provide helpful tips to their followers – who teach and seek to help people grow… in order to become better individuals, are leaders.  Of course, there are many types of leaders but what type of leader do you want to be (if at all)?

“The minute we start living condescending toward our congregations we lose all authority.” Eugene Peterson

I've got two daugthers! Chity chitty bang bang!

I've got two daugthers! Chity chitty bang bang!

Authority is often confused with “power”, yet their meanings do differ.  Authority can refer to a claim of legitimacy, justification and a right to exercise power. For example, I just ordered a new gun (a 9mm Glock – Model # 26) and with it could have the power to punish a criminal, but believing in the rule of law (as a United States citizen), I know that only a court of law carries the authority to carry out capital punishment.

What Leadership Is Not…

In my opinion, leadership isn’t power.  Define power, hmmm, no thanks (but feel free to look it up at Wikipedia) and let’s just say there is a hint of control involved. Does a good leader control? Again – my opinion – I believe that a great leader would want great results and share in the success.  A controlling leader exerts their power because of (empty) pride among other selfish reasons. Yesterday, I was at a conference held in Mid-Michigan called Michigan Men of Faith and realized that I have to continually reflect on the question (above in the first paragraph.) Of the many great topics, I attended a break out session on leadership and authority – imagine that.

I’m not gender biased but my wife has a saying for men who are weak; she called them weenie boys (or W.B.’s for short.)  Of course the definition of a W.B. can come in different varieties (including not living up to what they say (lie and deceit) and/or use of negative sentiment to get what they want or make a point) but (most commonly) they share the following similar trait:

  • Afraid to make decisions and/or afraid to make the wrong decisions

The worst thing that I could possibly hear from my wife when we are communicating in a disagreement is her calling me a W.B. (and she knows it….but of course, she wouldn’t do that, right?) Although, what if she had a valid point – what if I am afraid of… not having power…. or having my pride hurt… or being a bad leader….

If I am afraid of being a bad (leader) husband, father, boss, or church/community member, then I have to understand – I am what I choose. If I choose the right things, should I be afraid? If so, then what am I afraid of and why?  For example, “I’M leaving because [SOMEONE ELSE] screwed up.” OR “You made me….” This can also be used in an example of a father who claims that his ex-spouse is the excuse for his shortcomings on being a bad father, rather than facing his fear of why he is actually a bad father (if in fact he really is.)

Some Men Think They Are Born Great – Others Find They Have To Work Hard For It

A real leader should work on removing fear and pride and accept their authority and understands that it is not easy. Did General Washington kneel and pray to God at Valley Forge? Ahh, another great debate, but I believe the answer is yes, he did accept not only his authority in leading his troops into battle but he had faith in and accepted a higher authority. Did he fear the battle? Was it easy? Absolutely not, but his faith made him strong.

  • Leaders should be as objective as possible, such as in my last post titled Social Revolution – Objectivity vs. Subjectivity– if we listen to what Dr. Pearsall said, a leader who trusts “there are several ways of “knowing”” then a leader can find “evidence that there is much more to us than skin and bones and days and years.” There is a higher authority, I believe and I am open to learning more and seeking truth. It’s a lifelong process.
  • Think noble thoughts and strive to: Do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time and for the right reason.
  • Watch your sentiment – I too am guilty of not always being positive in my reinforcement (as a leader.)  For example, “saying whoever did this is stupid….” In front of my four year old or my employee, is simply wrong – it’s not doing “right thing.”  What if they did it?  What message am I really delivering?  Am I helping them to grow or helping them try again to get a better result?  What if they did – what I deem is stupid?  A WB overlays personal feelings  (a.k.a PRIDE) but a real leader (first) holds themselves accountable and delivers a clearly defined (positive) message for improvement to a negative situation.

I made a list of things that I want to work on to become a better leader (Husband, Father, Church Member and Boss) myself:

Love, Listen, Help, Support, Respect, Communicate, Be Consistent, Seek Truth, Provide Stewardship, Be Healthy, Forgive, and Preserver.

I’m sure that I missed some things but feel free to post your thoughts. What do you think? As I strive to continue to – do the right thing – I challenge myself to continue to grow and help others grow around me.

Have faith!  Take good care…