Weekly Thought – April 19, 2022
Fred accumulated thoughts on maturity which he planned to form into a book. Although the manuscript did not go into print, the collection exists and contains valuable thoughts on growing wise. This week’s message is a short commentary on a challenge to those seeking leadership.
The Price of Leadership
Aloneness is chosen; loneliness is imposed. It can be imposed by responsibility… for example, an executive who is highly functioning can never really be “one of the boys.” (Of course this applies to women executives, as well – and is actually even more difficult).
It can be imposed by circumstances caused by a move to a new location without any social contacts. Or it can be imposed by others who choose not to associate with you, making you feel like an outcast. I read in China this isolation was one of the punishments to insure conformity.
The loneliness of leadership must be accepted as part of the price. As a young man at GENESCO after given executive responsibilities, the CEO asked me, “Fred, how far do you want to go?” “Mr. Jarman, I want to go as far as I can.” He responded, “Then learn to live with loneliness.”
I used this example in a speech to an Ohio Presidents Organization meeting. Afterwards the President of a large architectural wanted to talk. “You have just explained my biggest management problem. I hate being lonely, so I talk too much to my people. I tell them everything so I won’t feel alone in all the decisions I make.”
This can be disastrous. Any changes he discusses with his firm will either be supported or stopped, depending on who has what to gain. In abdicating his leadership to create a comfortable environment he opened the door for poor decisions. He sacrificed the power to control his strategy. Talking over his potential decisions is valuable if and only if he chooses the right person and assesses his motivation. Leaders ultimately come to a crossroad and must make the final call… it isn’t a group activity.
This week think about: 1) How well do I handle loneliness? 2) What hinders my personal leadership development? 3) Who models healthy decision making for me?
Words of Wisdom: “Loneliness of leadership must be accepted as part of the price.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you— yes, I help you— yes, I uphold you with my victorious right hand!” (Isaiah 41: 10 Net Bible)