Some days leadership comes naturally. Some days I don’t play nice in the leadership sandbox. Forget the leadership sandbox, on my rough days I don’t play nice in any sandbox.
Have you noticed the same thing?
If so, I bet you’re like me and look for reasons why some days I cannot be the leader (or human) I want to be.
As I take stock of those tough days, a theme emerges loud and clear: me. On the days I struggle, I do not want to stand in the shadows and let my team win - I want to be on display and be recognized.
In short, the moments I am a poor leader are the moments I am selfish.
Let’s qualify the term selfish. I’m not talking about filling my cup with “me time” to ensure I’m sane. I’m not talking about electing to skip a gathering to curl up in a corner and read (I’m a true introvert that way).
No, I’m talking about inserting myself where others should be. I’m taking about preserving and aggrandizing self at the expense of giving to those for whom I am responsible.
Think of the simple seed. If it preserves its own life it continues to be alive, yes, but it cannot produce fruit and remains alone until it eventually loses its ability to live at all. Only by giving of itself, by being placed in the dirty ground and receiving the rain and the sun, does the seed ensure it lives and produces fruit.
Likewise, a leader only grows if she allows herself to be buried in her team’s need. Self interest must die. She must give of herself to live on.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, leadership is a war, and it’s up to you who you are waring against.
Are you waring against selfish impulses and seeking to work on your internal struggles in order to naturally give, become more self-aware, be more other-centric, and be with your team?
Or are you clinging to selfish desires and waring against anything or anyone that gets in the way of their fulfillment?
Authentic leaders realize the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation.