For years, I wanted to be the leader, says Justin Bariso writing for INC.
Back in elementary school, I remember being part of a small group of close friends. Every recess, we stuck together. In a world where sticks, stones, and words have the ability to cause pain, there was strength in numbers.
And for some reason, that group looked to me to make the decisions. “What will we play today?” “Who should make up the teams?”
That’s a lot of responsibility for a 6-year-old, but I was happy to assume the role.
Flash forward decades later.
As I matured and gained wisdom, my thinking changed. I’m still happy to lead a team–and have gotten plenty of opportunities through the course of my career. Truth is, I still get a lot of joy out of it.
However, I’m just as happy to follow someone else’s lead, and have learned more when I do so.
Those years have taught me countless lessons about leadership. But none are bigger than this one:
Those who lead the most effectively concern themselves with action, not position.
“Wait a second,” you say. “We need leaders. Businesses and organizations need leaders. People need to be shown the right way to go.”
I agree, to an extent. But time and time again, I’ve seen individuals who were in the practice of doing the right thing–until they received a position of authority. What happens next is sad: Those previously humble people become known for traits like hubris and haughtiness, to the point that people can’t stand to be around “the leader” anymore.
In contrast, there are some who get appointed to those positions, and they don’t change at all. Or if they do, it’s for the better. These are the people who know their role; they know that others look to follow their example, but they aren’t concerned with being “the leader.”
They know the ancient adage is true: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The truth is, most of us are thrust into some type of leadership role in our lives–whether we want it or not, and whether or not we’re ready for it. Think about the couple who suddenly discovers they will become parents, although they weren’t planning children. Or the newly appointed team leader, who was actually perfectly happy with his or her role as a worker bee.