One of the biggest myths of leadership is what John Maxwell calls The Freedom Myth. Basically it says that once you’ve reached “the top” you’re pretty much set. You have it made! You’re free to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it. Freedom!
It’s a complete myth. The higher you go in any organization the less true freedom you have. Authentic Leaders, especially Authentic Serving Leaders, willingly sacrifice some of their freedom in order to lead. But sacrifice they do!
Life is a series of trade-offs and clearly top leaders are rewarded for their sacrifices. Their positions normally come with higher compensation and often, increased prestige. It’s the level of income and the kind of prestige that lots of people want; the problem is, they often aren’t aware of the costs, or sacrifices, associated with having it.
I hope everyone knows that “the top” is achieved through hard work. Yes, there are exceptions; people promoted because their father-in-law was the founder of the company or something like that. But those are really few and far between. The vast majority of people in key leadership positions earned their way there. That doesn’t change just because you may not like them or may not agree with them.
Here is the part where many people have a rather large misconception… being on top is no piece of cake. The sacrificing doesn’t stop. The hard work doesn’t stop. In many ways the sacrificing is greater and in almost every way, the work is harder. The stress of performing in a key leadership position has eaten up many seemingly hearty individuals.
Now, I’m not asking anyone to shed any tears for highly paid executives, again if they are in a decent sized company they are likely well compensated. But… you should stop expecting perfection from them just because they have succeeded in their career.
Key leaders should indeed be held accountable but they should also be supported. It is NOT the job of any of us in the middle to point out the weaknesses of those above us. If your goal is, as mine is, to lead up in your organization then your job should be to discover and FILL any gaps your leader may have.
That might mean sacrificing the opportunity to show how much smarter you are than the person above you. Leaders sacrifice at every level, even in the middle. When you help the leaders above you become more effective you become more effective. You earn more influence in your organization. You advance in your own leadership journey. You do the right thing and that’s never wrong.
Now, one caveat before I close out this post. While I believe that leaders should be supported there are two exceptions. If your leader breaks the law or behaves in an unethical manner then all bets are off.
As Mr. Spock once so eloquently said, “The good of the one cannot outweigh the good of the many.”
Yes, support your leader but never when it involves illegal or unethical behavior that puts the organization at risk.