How do we get to know things?
For most of us, it is through our experience, our research and, in some cases, even through our education. I exclude Divine revelation here, if I may.
How do I know my wife loves me? Evidence based on conversation, action and subjective emotional cues. How do I know that I’m qualified, or valuable in my occupation? Evidence based on conversation (including Performance Appraisals), actions (such as authorising a payment) and my own subjective feelings of worth.
While not wishing to trivialise the many variables in existence, how do I know I’m being effective as a leader?
Surely the same should hold true. Yet somehow, there is a belief that gets in the way. The belief that “I am right.” And thus, you are not. If this is an objective realisation, based on objective fact (in a competition, I crossed the line first), it is acceptable. If not, it will be perceived and received as arrogance.
Who wants to be an arrogant leader?
I don’t know many who would choose this label, especially if they are leaders of religious organisations. Yet it is all too common. The belief is at work when I say, “I’d like your opinion, but remember, I’m the boss.” It’s at work when I haul a long-serving colleague over the coals in front of his peers, but never have that done to me. Then I make him or her apologise to everyone for their conduct, like a naughty schoolboy. This is not leadership, it is politics!
Politics is, simply, the study of people and authority. One entry in The Free Dictionary defines it as, “intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.” If you are using your position in powerplays, you are a politician, and you will be loathed as one.
If you forget your position and embrace your role, assuming 1.)that others are competent, if given clear parameters and 2.)that you never see both sides of the coin simulataneously, you are a leader.
The latter belief is critical to leadership humility and its fruit: respect.
We need to know that we will never know it all; never see all there is to see. We are not God. It would be good if we led others like we believe it: considering others and valuing their input or contribution as much as our own.
This is not weakness, it is engagement. Of Colleagues. Of Talent, not “mere employees”.