There are many elements to a campaign. Leadership is number one. Everything else is number two.
The crowd doesn’t recognize a leader until he is gone; then they build a monument for him with the stones they threw at him in life.
J. Oswald Sanders
Any organization, whether for profit or non-profit, depends on effective leadership to provide immediate and ongoing success. Every organizational issue, every management decision that is either implemented or postponed, is ultimately a product of leadership. Find an organization achieving excellence and you will find leadership effectiveness. Find failure and you will find leadership failure as well. But despite our need for genuine leadership, throughout our society we are suffering from a leadership void. It seems that regardless of the direction in which we turn, a lack of principled, devoted, committed leaders is readily noticed. Whether in the arena of politics, business, education or religion there all too often exists a leadership vacuum and it appears as if the true leader is more of a dream than a reality.
All around us people are searching for leaders as we instinctively seek them out and recognize the necessity for quality leadership in all areas of life. The leadership landscape looks desolate and barren and even a casual observer wonders, “Where have all the leaders gone?”
Warren G. Bennis, founder of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California sounded the alarm when he stated that we suffer from “…a leadership crisis in most of our institutions. The leadership crisis will probably not become the basis for a best-seller or a blockbuster movie, but in many ways it is the most urgent and dangerous of the threats we face today, if only because it is insufficiently recognized and little understood.” Bennis continues: “It is the paradox of our times that precisely when the beleaguered survivors in leadership positions feel unable to summon up the vestiges of power left to them; we most need people who can lead.”
“The death of leadership is apparent throughout society. No matter where we turn, we see a severe lack of faith in the leadership of our schools, religious organizations and governments. To paraphrase a Business Week article, if Martians descended someplace in the United States and demanded that we take them to our leaders, we would have to think twice about where to take them.”
Those in the arenas of business and industry recognize the great need for leadership. James F. Bolt, chairman and founder of Executive Development Associates has observed, “At a time when leadership is more crucial than ever to our very survival, there is a shortage of qualified people to lead corporations.”
This leadership crisis is not limited to business and commercial interests, but touches every aspect of life, extending even to our religious life. Pollster George Barna has written: “The church is paralyzed by the absence of godly leadership. We see millions of people busily engaged in meaningless activity in a vain attempt to find purpose, direction and comfort, but pitifully mired in chaos and confusion. It is neither the condition God intended for us, nor the necessary state of affairs.”
I am convinced that leadership is one of the most critical issues confronting us as we navigate the perilous waters of the third millennium. Yet as we embrace the responsibility and privilege that is ours, we must do so in a fresh manner. We need to revitalize organizations as we cast renewed visions and purge pet programs; new goals need to be set and priorities reorganized as we motivated those around us to accomplish what is needed in an ever changing world. Yet I believe that we can meet the challenges presented today, if leaders are dedicated and equipped to meet those challenges by embracing unchanging leadership principles in a fresh manner.
Harvey Mackay recounts the story of Philip Pillsbury if the Pillsbury milling family and his example and willingness to do anything on the factory floor: “The tips of three of his fingers were missing, the unmistakable mark of a journeyman grain miller. Philip Pillsbury had an international reputation as a connoisseur of fine foods and wines, but to the troops, his reputation as a man willing to do a hard, dirty job was the only one that mattered and you can be sure everyone was aware of it.”
Only through modeling authentic servant leadership will contemporary leaders effectively and strategically shape the future. It is said of Jesus, “He came to serve, not to be served.” Servant leaders may voluntarily surrender a palace lifestyle complete with all its privileges and perks to serve and lead others. The best leaders see themselves as servants and may possibly be missing the tips of their fingers.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris