Leadership. Loyalty. Leadership and loyalty. The idea of great leadership has been weighing on my mind so much lately. Over the last couple of months I have been devouring books on great leaders, or at least whom I have determined to be great leaders for various reasons and if I mentioned them by name, I might elicit barroom brawls or mass pandemonium so I’ll keep my opinions to myself. But reading about these leaders and their personalities as well as the strengths and even their weaknesses made me take a step back and take a look at myself as well as those around me.
One of the things about each of these leaders that really struck me was their loyalty to those with whom they chose to work and also the loyalty of those who chose to work with that particular leader as well. In all of the stories that I read I found that each great leader had a handful of folks that were trusted to the very core. But then I wondered how many times great leaders failed because of their loyalties? As I continued to read on, I realized that each one of these leaders could have been destroyed at some time or another because of their loyalties however, they each knew that they were trusted to lead and in order to lead it sometimes meant that they were going to have to cut loose some of the ties closest to them.
In my personal life I have been blessed with a husband who is a great leader. He leads us well with a strong mind, heart, and faith as well as the common sense to know when he needs to step back and have me take the lead. I watch him lead in his work place as well. Many of the people who have worked for him have also described him as a strong leader. One in particular I am very close to so I asked him what made my husband a strong leader. He told me that he led with conviction yet was willing and able to change course if needed. He told me that my husband led his team with a heart full of faith and compassion but also with the knowledge that there was a task at hand that needed to be seen through completion. He also shared a story with me of a time when my husband had to come down on him pretty hard. I asked how he felt about that. His response was that he appreciated it as he deserved it and it forced him to reevaluate his priorities and work ethic. He also confided that my husband was the best leader he had had the privilege of following. I feel the same way!
Recently, I had to ask someone, a friend, if she was “a leader or a follower”? The look she gave me when I questioned her was a look of shock but also a look of questioning, as if she didn’t really know for sure. She is in a position of leadership and those around her desperately need her to lead and to lead with conviction and with heart and a whole lot of faith to boot! After that conversation I looked closely at the people she has surrounded herself with and realized that success in the long term for her is going to be very difficult to achieve. She is loyal. Loyal to a fault in fact. I realized that due to her loyalties and inability to drop the loose ends, she could fail. That situation made me step back and take a look at the people with whom I have surrounded myself with and I realized that they run the gamut. A few of those closest to me could lead anyone, anytime, anywhere while there are a few whom I have I come to realize couldn’t lead any of us to the refrigerator, even on a good day. Then I had to ask myself what each person brought to my life on any given day. The answers were frankly frightening to me.
It was then that I realized I had a whole lot of loose ends providing far too much drag on my world in every sense. I realized that it is exhausting to be “dragging” these threads each and every day. I took another look at my husband and admired the fact that he doesn’t have any “drag”. He has never been afraid to cut loose the ties that held him back. Like my friend, I am loyal to a fault yet I am finding that my threads have grown so heavy that they are pulling me underwater and failure isn’t an option to me.
So alas, today I have found the strength to get out my trusty old scissors and set myself free. Today I have chosen to lead and to be a leader with conviction, strength and mercy as well as with a heart full of love and faith. Today I am breathing freely, without gasping for air on my swim through life. Happy cutting…Snip, Snip!
With love and gratitude,