Along time ago I was studying the virtues that the Greek philosophers taught. To the Greeks, the virtue was considered the “golden mean” between two opposite extremes. It was the ability to balance the tensions that produced the virtue.
In areas where I have leadership responsibilities, I try to find the virtue of leadership as the balance between these two tensions:
- Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. (1 Timothy 3:1)
- Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. (Jeremiah 45:5)
On the one side: desire leadership. On the other side: don’t desire leadership. Do your best at it, but be ready to give it up.
I love this statement on leadership from John Maxwell—Leadership is the willingness to put oneself at risk. Leadership is the passion to make a difference with others. Leadership is being dissatisfied with the current reality. Leadership is taking responsibility while others are making excuses. Leadership is seeing the possibilities while others are seeing the limitations. Leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd. Leadership is an open mind and an open heart. Leadership is the ability to submerge your ego for the sake of what is best. Leadership is evoking in other the capacity to dream. Leadership is inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute. Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many. Leadership is your heart speaking to the hearts of others. Leadership is the integration of heart, head, and soul. Leadership is the capacity to care, and in caring, to liberate the ideas, energy and capacity of others. Leadership is the dream made reality. Leadership is, above all, courageous.
I am trying to balance the pulls of leadership, but while I do I’m loving the leadership tension!
UPDATE: This idea of leadership tension became one of the key seed thoughts for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.