Privileged Leadership

There are many different “types” of leaders today and two of them are privileged leaders. Yes, privileged counts twice because we have those who feel privileged to lead and those who feel leading makes them privileged.

One of those groups have an opportunity to be excellent leaders, the other not so much.

Let’s look first at those “leaders” who believe leading makes them privileged. (I put leaders in parentheses because identifying these people as leaders is a very generous use of the word.)

Leaders who feel privileged separate themselves from their people. They provide themselves with “perks” not available to most people. They somehow have convinced themselves that their title or position entitle them to extra benefits or stuff. They will even brag about their special status to the people they are trying to lead. These leaders build walls between themselves and their people, the walls are built from egos but the “leaders” don’t even realize they exist.

Leaders who feel privileged don’t understand the significance of the words they use…. or maybe they do. When given the choice of identifying their people as “our team” or “their staff” they invariably choose staff so there won’t be any doubt as to who is most privileged. These privileged leaders feel it’s important to keep people in their place.

Leaders who feel privileged have separate rules for themselves. The believe in the adage that “rank has it’s privileges” and that’s how they lead. They expect more from others than they expect from themselves. They hold their people to standards that they talk about but fail to live up to themselves. 

People who believe leading gives them privileges demoralize their people. They tear their people down to make themselves appear somehow better, at least in their own mind. Leaders who believe they are privileged steal every bit of “credit” from their people and leave their people believing they have no true chance at success. 

A leader who feels privileged creates an environment of despair for their people.

On the other hand following a leader who feels privileged to lead is a truly remarkable experience. Leaders who feel privileged to lead feel a responsibility to those they lead to help them succeed. They celebrate the success of their people more than they celebrate their own success. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead give extra credit for success to their team while accepting more than their share of responsibility for any lack of success. The support the show their people is unwavering. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead take their people where they couldn’t go alone. They coach, they mentor, they develop and they care about their people. Leaders who feel privileged to lead invest themselves in the success of their people, giving all the effort they have and then giving a little more.

Leaders who feel privileged to lead don’t only build more followers, they build more leaders. They know that ultimately their success is completely dependent upon the success of their people and they extend their leadership by building leaders to leave behind when their own leadership days have passed. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead create an environment of hope and possibility. They have earned the right to be considered leaders and they hold that title with honor. Watching a leader who feels privileged to lead is like watching poetry in motion and when you see one watch closely because they are the model of successful leadership today.

Two Possibilities of Leadership

If you’re a leader who has someone reporting to them who isn’t getting the job done there are only two possibilities.

The first possibility is that YOU hired the wrong person for the job. The second possibility is that YOU have not provided the individual with the tools and coaching they need in order to succeed.

Either way, their lack of success is on YOU!

That’s called leadership. If you don’t like that or you don’t want to accept that, then perhaps the whole leadership thing is a bit beyond your abilities.

Are you riled up yet? I hope so because as a leader it can be good to show a little emotion once in a while. Riled up isn’t the best emotion in the world but hey, it’s better than no emotion. 

By the way, this post is not about emotion but now that I’ve gone there I think I need to go there a little more. Emotion doesn’t have to mean yelling, screaming, and waving your arms like a maniac. Sometimes the most emotional leaders are the ones who don’t waste their energies showing emotion, they invest their energies in caring for their people and helping them succeed. 

I know there may be circumstances beyond the control of a leader that can result in the failure of one of their people. I also know that even though those circumstances are few and far between many so called leaders often use them as an excuse for why they aren’t responsible for the failures of their people.

Here is the point of this post: If you want to lead then you must, you must, you must, accept responsibility for the vast majority of your people’s shortcomings. I know how hard that is, I know how much you want to resist that fact, and I know all to well the temptation to find another reason for the failure of one of your people. But Authentic Servant Leadership isn’t easy, building others isn’t easy and helping others succeed isn’t easy, but it is the challenge that Authentic Servant Leaders accept. 

I think one of the reasons I like blogging is that everything is black and white. I’m typing with black font on a white background.. it doesn’t get much clearer than that. I fully realize that blogging this stuff is much easier and clearer than living this stuff. That said, in order to truly lead you must at least consider your role in the failings of your people. The good news is that you may also consider your role in their success.

Leading people has many rewards but before an Authentic Servant Leader would dare to accept even a single reward they willingly accept responsibility for most anything that goes wrong.