What does it mean to lead? When you picture having a role as a coach, boss or leader what are the things you picture yourself doing? What are the pressures you expect to navigate?
When I consider roles of leadership and authority I instantly think of 2 mutually exclusive perspectives I have been taught over the years:
1) The team you are on is more important than the team you lead
2) The team you lead is more important than the team you are on
Can I let you in on a secret? Both of those statements are FALSE! To lean fully into one of those perspectives you must abdicate a large part of your role and responsibility as a leader. Let’s look at why that is…
False Perspective #1
The team you are on is more important than the team you lead.
The team you are on refers to leadership peers as well as the authority above you. The idea here is that you must honor and serve the people on your team by treating them as most important. That might get you a solid annual review or some good hang time with fellow leaders – but it is the leadership equivalent of the parents who neglect their kids. Adopting this perspective means ignoring the fact that roles of leadership call us to benefit and serve those we lead. Remember the perspective given to the disciples by Jesus:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a random for many. – Matthew 20:25-28
False Perspective #2
The team you lead is more important than the team you are on.
The team you lead refers to those under your authority. It could be easy to silo off and treat the team you lead as most important. It can help you feel like a good boss, coach or leader if the people you lead love you and are always happy with you. Leading this way can give you an illusion of success (because the team you lead is happy) but it is devoid of all true pressures and reality of leadership.
When you hold a leadership role you are responsible and accountable to those above you, those alongside you and those under your authority. In many ways you work for all of them. Simon Sinek would say that, “The primary benefit of leadership should go to somebody other than the leader.” In truth the benefit of your leadership should go to everyone around you, it is an entrustment that calls you to serve multiple layers of people. Natural momentum causes one group to benefit while another suffers. That is the reason you were appointed boss, coach, pastor, team leader, etc… It is your role to navigate the complexity and find ways to serve and benefit the people you lead and the people who lead you.