Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Leaders Are Always On

Harvard professor, Rosabeth Moss Kanter blogs about how a leader's words and action are always on display. Failure to remember this can be costly as former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown can attest to. A carelessly spoken word when he assumed microphones were off, may have indeed cost Brown the British election.

Kanter explains -

"At a rally shortly before the election, Prime Minister Brown was asked some awkward questions about foreign workers that he answered politely. A few minutes later, he was heard over an open channel and later the broadcast airwaves complaining to aides for exposing him to "a bigoted woman". His insult and apology dominated press coverage... There is no "off" switch for leaders."

Most of us will never attain such lofty positions of leadership but the lesson is a good one. If you plan to lead, you need to be aware that your words and actions are always on display, especially in our current social media infused world. The burden of leadership is that people are watching and they often take their cues from what we say and do. Here's what Kanter says -

"Followers can be acutely attuned to the merest hint of a leader's state of mind and act on their assumptions, sometimes tragically."

Yet, for the Christian, it is not simply the eyes and ears of men that should concern us. Our speech and actions are always before God. We are regulated by His Spirit. Our hearts are convicted when we speak unkindly or carelessly. We are called to account for our secret actions. In a way, we are truly "always on" - not simply in front on men and women but before the Audience of One.

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned"

Matt 12:36


Halfmom said...

Umm - sorry ESI. I reposted your post within a new post of my own this morning because I liked your post so much. You will see that it reminded of something that I've both been teaching and learning, lately and it seems like forever :)

Great job!

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI, Yes.

Leaders especially in the Christian context must be true followers of Christ and virtue in character is important.

They also need to be people who are people of grace. They may err at times, and I'm not saying they should. But don't people learn more from others who are as human as they are, who also need forgiveness, yet at the same time are marked by lives that by grace are different?

Kind of wordy here, but you understand what I'm trying to get at.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I hope I didn't come across as putting your post down at all, because I didn't mean that. What is said here is so true.

I was making another point which I think even in the realm of common grace makes sense. Though humility, except because of the influence of Christianity has not been prized in the world, but rather, disdained.

But leaders need to acknowledge when they are off track, or be willing to do so, and so make themselves accountable. Which by itself would likely be a deterrent.

But just my thoughts. I hope I was open to what this post said, and not just trying to make my point. Though I likely would make a hopefully gentle push back anywhere this is said.

Every Square Inch said...

Susan/Halfmom - I'm just glad that you found the post helpful and encouraging.

Ted - no offense taken on my part at all. I would agree with you that true Christian leadership means being people of grace - showing the need for grace through our weakness - showing God's provision of grace in our weakness.