Saturday, May 30, 2009

Leadership is Applied High-mindedness

There’s one thing we need if we wish to succeed in the life of leadership; this is something which I’m sure a lot of leaders simply either aren’t aware of, or refuse to give way to... it’s the humble skill of remaining high-minded for the benefit of others and the goal as a whole.

I say ‘remaining’ high-minded because it’s not until we realise our own biases get in the way--in the moment--of our people’s creativity and enthusiasm and their expression of same, that we start to see that seeing things from others’ viewpoints is the best way to help ourselves. High-mindedness is the only consistent way to this end.

We see here that we can quite easily lead people to nowhere good if we have low and transitory goals regarding our own behaviour and manifest ‘restraining’ feedback, not remaining forever watchful of ourselves--checking ourselves continually against the standard of high-mindedness, for which we seek for each of our people, and the team as a whole.

(After all, is leadership not about passing the baton, growing those junior to succeed us in our present roles? We hence want to role model high-mindedness and then also be on the lookout for evidence of it occurring in others, so we can commend such behaviour.)

The leader’s best demeanour is to be etched with a sense of the regal, ‘a noble reserve of bearing which cannot be mistaken,’[1] and nothing less than an appreciable helping of grace.

Instead of being ‘one of the boys or girls,’ we must rise above the typical i.e. the norm, the default drive, and settle only for cruising the moral and intellectual stratosphere, where regality and grace reside.

And it’s true to say this is a learned habit. Both qualities--the moral and the intellectual--require tendering to maximise our capacities as leaders, but interestingly both are rooted deeply in the moral; for leadership, like love, wisdom, truth and faith, is a morally-tangible ‘soft’ skill not learned merely via the mind; the heart must be engaged fully also. (And a lot of leadership gurus miss that point.)

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] A.W. Tozer, “A Plea for Christian Dignity,” in Lyle Dorsett, A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2008), p. 184. This article in the Alliance Weekly was originally published on March 30, 1946.

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