Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Served or Followed

The adage goes something like this: You’re really not a leader if there are no followers.

Leadership is, of course, people business; in really broad brushstrokes, there are two kinds of people in the wake of leaders: those who serve and those who follow. With position often comes a certain amount of service and obedience. With chains of command and titles come staff and subordinates, employees who obey and serve because it is their job. I’ve noticed that some leaders seem to be gratified by the obedience of those who serve. In my view, this really isn’t being a leader; it is simply being a boss.

Leading those who serve is easy; leading those who follow is hard work. Being a boss is a cheap thrill; being a leader takes sacrifice, but the rewards are genuine. Bossing may work for tactics; it takes leadership to make a lasting impact, to see people grow, to cause strategic change, and to leave a legacy.

I’m finding myself entirely dissatisfied with merely being a boss, and increasingly irritated by those who insist on being a boss when they should be leaders (and especially intolerant of pastors who boss rather than lead… but that is probably the subject of another post). I’m working to inspire followers, whether I’m officially their boss or not. And I’m trying to purge any satisfaction that comes from being merely served, but rather find my gratification, and judge my own effectiveness, by the impact of those who may follow.

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