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The Toughest Choices a Leader Must Make

| May 31, 2011

by Jim Bruce

I recently stumbled across a post “ The Toughest Choices a Leader Must Make”(which is alternatively titled “Thinking Strategically About What You Want to Accomplish in Life”) that really caught my attention.  Its author is Ray Blunt, who is Associate Director and Fellow at the Washington Institute fro Faith, Vocation, and Culture.  His focus as a leadership consultant and teacher is on servant leadership.

Blunt asserts, and I agree, that when you become a leader, things change in your daily world.  You pay may be larger, you may have a better office, there are likely changes in your relations, especially with your peers, etc.  And, your responsibilities and how you address those responsibilities change.

He goes on to assert that with these changes come “the three toughest daily choices a leader makes:”

1.  What is your enduring purpose as a leader?  What will be at your core?  What will you place before those you lead as the purpose that gets them going each morning?  The task of a leader is to connect people with purpose, and you do that every day!

2.  How will you use your time?  Max DePree, former CEO of Herman-Miller, says that the first task of a leader is to define reality.  This means identifying and speaking “dangerous truths.”  Doing so requires courage and talking honestly and openly with people.  DePree goes on to say that the last act of a leader is to say thank you.  In between, the leader becomes servant and debtor to those around him or her.  Your effectiveness is found in the lives of your followers:  are they growing, being creative, stepping up?  Serving those who follow you is a key part of developing their competence and character, and growing the next generation of leaders.  Whether you step up to this challenge or not is a choice you make each day.

3.  Where do your energies take you at the end of each day?  Are we building something into the purpose and people of the organization that will endure?  Or are we focused on building monuments to ourselves?  Again, a daily question.

These three choices really represent a practice of being a servant-leader, a leader who truly serves those who follow.  So, think about your personal leadership style and be intentional in its development and execution.


.  .  .  .  .     jim