It has been said many of the problems people fact are caused by a lack of leadership. Whether we are trying to act in business, perform church or charity work, raise a family or run a country, the differences between success and failure most often comes from leadership or its lack.
I had many misconceptions about leadership before I met Team. “But I’m not a leader; I’m just a mom,” I used to say. I have since learned from the leadership of Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and Team being a good parent is an essential leadership role in the establishment of a healthy society. By accepting the role of mom, I chose to be put into the leadership position of establishing and enforcing boundaries for our children, encouraging their personal and emotional growth and development and helping them to become productive members of society.
Now, since being in the leadership development program of Team, I am better able to see true leadership and its lack in the world. When I look at the world now, I am more able to look at it from the viewpoint of someone who has grown from being a mere follower, and is striving to become a leader.
According to Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s bestselling Launching A Leadership Revolution, leaders are characterized by three things. These characteristics of leaders are that they are hungry, being teachable and being honorable.
Orrin and Chris are very clear regarding their definitions of these concepts. To be hungry is to have a vision of something more and/or better. To be teachable is to be willing to learn, and put into practice what is learned. To be honorable is to have character, doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.
Very often, when we think of hunger in terms of leadership, we think of it in terms of being hungry for power. But as Orrin and Chris point out, this type of hunger is the hunger of selfishness, not leadership. True leaders serve and do not seek power.
I often see a leadership lack in the arena of hunger in politics. We’ve all seen politicians who do what is expedient, instead of what is right, because the easy thing will gain them power among their fellows or constituents. For example, when New York State’s legislature passed the Same Sex Marriage bill, legislators who had been firmly opposed to the measure in the past caved under pressure from special interest groups and their fellow lawmakers, ignoring the wishes of their constituents.
When we think of leadership on the political stage, having leaders who are teachable is very often not what we see. Time and again, I have seen political figures and appointed officials presented with the facts, who continue in the course they have decided, frequently contrary to the facts presented to them. For example, the judge of the Federal District Court in California over-rode that state’s law opposing Same Sex Marriage. That unelected appointed leader did so in direct opposition to the wishes of a majority of California’s constituents, who had suggested and voted in the proposition in the first place.
Honorability in politics is often a difficult thing to find. Politics is filled with people in power who abuse it and behave dishonorably. The accusations against President Bill Clinton, both before and after he took office, and those against Senator John Edwards show a lack of honorability. People of character, who behave honorably, are often scarce in politics. And even when we find them, often the political process itself can corrupt them.
A lack of leadership in the world must be first addressed by individuals learning about it and putting it into practice in their own lives. A quote from the tombstone of an 11th century Anglican Bishop reads,
When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one desperate last attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.
As leaders are grown as individuals and in their homes, the leadership in businesses, churches and charitable organizations will rise. It is only then leaders can and will rise up to serve in government.
When I joined Team, I wanted to change the world. As I began to be exposed to Team and the leadership of Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I began to realize, as the quote says, I had it backwards. Instead of changing the world, I needed to change me. Being hungry, teachable and honorable starts with the person in the mirror. Only after my own change became more effective was I able to affect change in my home. As my family life became better, my leadership at work and in my church began to increase. I went from being a person who saw leadership as having power over others to being someone who understands it really means to serve, and in serving, lead.