By Gene Benson
Library and bookstore shelves are crammed with books about leadership. An internet search of the word “leadership” yields more than seven billion results. (Full disclosure: I did not read all of them.) Most books, articles, and blog posts pertaining to leadership aim to develop leadership skills.
Development of those skills is important. We spend valuable time on the subject in the Being better Program. But once a person becomes a leader in their field, they must realize one important, but often overlooked fact. They are not necessarily a leader in other fields. That is not to say that their leadership skills are not valuable. They can use those skills to assist those who are the established leaders in that field.
Let me use an example. After many years in the industry, a person becomes an airline captain. That position comes with great responsibility, great authority, and generally great respect. A year later, our captain has settled into the role and has become accustomed to being in charge and having final authority. Without warning, our captain is blindsided by a request to serve on the church council. Having attended church less than regularly and never having participated in any church activities, our captain is flattered and accepts.
Our captain is not aware that the congregation is split into several factions, each with a different vision of the path the church should follow going forward. The first council meeting is a disaster when our captain expresses an honest opinion of how the church should proceed but does it in a way that alienates three of the factions and about half the congregation.
The problem arose because the captain had only part of the picture. We do not know what we do not know. The captain did not know that every member of the congregation was not on the same page of the hymnal. This was uncharted territory. In airline flying, the variables are known and can be logically considered when making decisions. Everyone is on the same path to get the airplane to its destination as safely and as efficiently as possible. The factions within the church were looking at different paths to alternate destinations.
Leaders need to be strong and assertive when necessary. They also need to be able to throttle back the leadership when appropriate and allow those who know the variables to lead.