Leadership is an honour but a difficult one; it brings responsibilities.
Though being led by you may also be difficult. Leaders don’t always consider this.
As the Egyptian proverb says, ‘Never ask the camel what they think of the camel-driver’.
The leader sets the climate; this is their primary role and effect on an organisation.
And this can be for good or ill.
I have seen leaders change an organisation in six months not because of new initiatives but simply through the way they treat their staff.
People feel ennobled, empowered, freed; and happy to go above and beyond in their work.
And I have seen healthy organisations reduced to rubble because of leaders whose insecurity spills into their leadership.
The spillage of insecurity is significant and tends to manifest itself in controlling behaviour of some sort.
On the international stage, perhaps it is someone like Putin, closing down opposition for the last fifteen years, through threat and murder.
Control must always stamp out diversity.
Or perhaps it’s the head of a spiritual organisation who writes to supporters saying that unless they support the programme of arranged events, and get their friends to as well, ‘things could go very badly’.
You can smell the ego’s fear and desperation.
Desperate men and women in leadership positions are dangerous. Their role is holding their ego together; so they need compliance.
Anyone who threatens their position will be pushed away or cut out of the circle. They will surround themselves with the timid, the weak or the damaged who can find solace in the small world of a dysfunctional leader.
If creating the climate is the primary effect of leadership, the ability to hold people is the primary gift.
The good leader holds a community as it grows; and this holding requires some letting go. Good holding allows people to be who they are, rather than be who the leader’s ego needs them to be.
This requires constant adjustment by the leader. The reward is fresh shoots of growth all over the place.
The one who must control things cannot do this. They cannot hold in this manner – they can only crush; and there can be no letting go of anyone or anything.
No one can be allowed to be who they are – only compliance can be tolerated.
Controlling leaders create monochrome communities and the stale air of a closed space.
Avoidant leadership is another dysfunctional model, rooted in fear. It doesn’t grasp issues; it cannot speak plainly with people and often cannot decide. It is control through denial, through the unspoken, through drift, where little good can grow.
Leadership is an honour but a difficult one; it needs us to be well to manage it.
Ask the camel.