Sunday, February 22, 2015

Generous and selfish leadership styles

One's style of leadership can be characterized as either generous or selfish or somewhere on the continuum in between. We often don't think of leadership that way but our leadership styles do reflect the larger issue of our own spiritual growth and where we are on our journey with Jesus because intentional followership of Him inevitably leads us away from a focus on ourselves to a focus on Him. This is as true of high profile Christian leaders as it is of others. 

For selfish leaders, there is a high need for recognition, adulation and the approval of others. Self focus among leaders is a sign of pride and pride is about me and that means it is about selfishness. Generous leaders, on the other hand, love it when others get the praise and they intentionally lift others up. Selfish leaders lift themselves up while generous leaders lift others up.

In like manner, generous leaders look out for the well being of their staff while selfish leaders look out for the well being of themselves. How we interact with and treat staff is a clear indicator of our generosity or selfishness. Those who marginalize, mistreat or poorly treat staff are not living with generosity. Rather they feel that their leadership position gives them the privilege and authority to treat staff as they like rather than to treat them well. Generous leaders love to serve their staff while selfish leaders love their staff to serve them.

I am also always fascinated by senior leaders who have salaries significantly higher than the next level down. They will tell me, "the board made this decision." Might be, but they make the decision for the levels below them and when there is a significant disparity it reveals a selfishness on the part of the leader who is OK with their privilege and OK with the disparity. It is not uncommon in Christian organizations - or others. 

It is a worthwhile exercise for leaders to evaluate their actions and practices against the selfish - generous continuum. With some reflection we may realize that we could be doing better. The further we move toward generosity of spirit, the closer we resemble Jesus. This does not preclude tough decisions or dealing with problematic staff. But even there we can demonstrate either selfishness or generosity.

The more my leadership is about me the more selfishness I am reflecting. The more my leadership is about mission and others, the more generosity I grow. And it is a life long journey from selfishness to generosity.

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

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