The Autobiography of a Self-Proclaimed Leader …
“The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”
Once upon a time there was a man who believed he was a great leader. Once a week he would gather his people and extol all of the things that he did that made him a great leader.
One day he began … “I am kind and helpful, in fact I am so helpful that when you get stuck and don’t know what to do I step in and tell you what to do! In fact, sometimes I am such a great leader that I actually do the task for you because I want to help you so much!”
One of his people replied, “You’re so right, you make my job so much easier and I never get frustrated or have to think too hard!”
He went on to tell them, “I am a great leader because I shield you from any information that could make you feel uncomfortable because I want you to feel good about your work. I never want to tell you what you need to improve on because I don’t want you to be upset! Besides, I really don’t want to be uncomfortable either! What kind of a leader would I be if I made you feel bad?”
Another of his people replied, “You are so kind and gracious great leader, thank you for protecting us from those harsh realities. I want to personally thank you for the hot chocolate and the long talks about my feelings when I am having a bad day and just don’t like my job!”
And lastly the great leader extolled, “I am a great leader because I am also a great teacher and so I get down in the weeds with you so that I can make sure you are doing the job correctly. I want you to do the job exactly as I would do it because I am training you to be a great leader so you can move up in position and title just like me!”
And so life went on … until it didn’t. The leader got sick and could no longer work because he had worn himself into the ground. He never did get that promotion because his leaders felt he wasn’t such a great leader because he micro-managed his people and avoided conflict. Well it didn’t take long for the groups productivity to go down. Projects were late and deadlines were missed so the higher-ups stepped in to investigate. This caused major pressure on the team and so more time was needed in hot chocolate sessions about feelings and bad days which drove productivity down even farther. Things got even worse when the higher-ups chose a new leader to replace him because not a single one of them was asked to interview for the position, in fact some of them were fired!
“This is not right,we must take matters into our own hands” they said and so they decided to protest these injustices. They made signs and shouted, they trashed the building of the very company that at one time provided them protection and a comfortable living. They got angry at the great leader for abandoning them and smashed the pictures of him they had on their desks because he wasn’t there to make things comfortable any longer. And in doing so they lost everything … their jobs, their income, their lifestyle, and their freedom. The sad thing is that they had lost their sense of purpose and meaning when they handed their accountability, ownership, and ability to make an impact a long time ago.
The moral of the story:
As a leader … sometimes the story we tell ourselves and others about ourselves is just that … a story. The true measure of a leader is the story other people tell about you based on their experience … not what you tell them!