A Leader's Constant Tension

October 09, 2014

"I've just come back from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, which I believe is one of the better leadership conferences. The theme of this year's event was change, especially as it relates to the life of a leader. Having a few days to percolate on the topic and filter through the content I have a couple thoughts to share. The reality is this, change is a continual tension point for almost every leader. In fact, change is the most volatile component in any organization next to fear. Now the subject of change is huge, and one of the primary reasons is because it is directly related to people, and the more people involved, coupled with the length of time change was absent, the harder it will be to move anything. I remember hearing in seminary that if a church had not experienced a significant change in ten years the culture would become cemented and the chances of implementing change would be next to impossible. We continually hear that people have an aversion to change. If that holds true, then any leader whose heartbeat is to implement change, will experience a natural point of friction arising between themselves and the people. It just goes with the territory. Yet, I don't think we fully grasp the implications this has on our leadership. One of the reasons I say that is because I believe there are two major filters that people use to judge the effectiveness of leaders. These are what will be remembered after you have left and the legacy through which your leadership will be measured. They are,
  1. Your character
  2. The changes you implemented
Many of the speakers at the Catalyst Conference focused on the first one. There is no denying that a leader who exemplifies honesty, integrity, fairness, and discipline is a valued commodity in any organization. You can think of it as developing the changes internally that are necessary for building the kind of character that makes a leader worthy of following. One of the continual refrains that echoed through a number of the speakers was: You will never change the world unless you change yourself first. It is undoubtedly one of the primary things people will remember about you after you are long gone. The second one is equally important. Let's be honest, any leader worth their salt is not satisfied with coasting, keeping the status-quo, or simply care taking a long standing tradition. Our hearts yearn to making a difference and making the world a better place. We may not be able to change the world, but we can all change something. So, as a leader, managing the never-ending tension of bringing change its likely a good exercise to look down the road and ask yourself these two questions,

How do I want people to remember me, and what do I want them to remember me for?

They may serve as valuable questions for determining how you lead in the present, and the type of projects you invest your time and efforts. photo credit: topgold via photopin cc"


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