I caught a brief discussion on TV the other day between four religious scholars who were discussing the leadership of Moses, Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. What they felt was one of the most important similarities among these leaders was that they were all “called” to their leadership roles – and, for the most part, reluctantly.
They didn’t spend their early years making “all the right political moves” to position themselves as leaders, and they certainly didn’t develop their own value system based on the “constituency” they wanted to lead. No, they were men of truth and justice who were called to say “yes” when it would have been easier for them – for anyone – to say, “I’m not the right person for this role” or, “I’m afraid” – for myself, for my family, of failure, or that I’m simply not worthy…
Is it that reluctant leadership – leadership that does not come from arrogance, ego, political confidence and aspiration, or a privileged birth that is predictive of the best leaders?
And, because of their reluctance to be leaders, are the best leaders also the most vulnerable?
If vulnerability is defined as, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt, “and “open to temptation or persuasion,” then would you define Moses, Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as vulnerable? I would.
And I wonder… is it their vulnerability that makes them stand out in our minds as truly great – because we know what they endured physically and emotionally – or did their vulnerability make them better leaders because their followers knew their true hearts, minds and souls?
If it’s the first case – that their vulnerability – their physical and emotional suffering, the temptation to say “no” when they knew they were called to say “yes” – is what makes them stand out in our minds as truly great, then what does that mean to us as leaders? Goodness knows I’m hoping that we don’t have to bear such suffering in order for us to be great at leading our teams, companies and organizations.
So that brings us to the second option. Perhaps it’s the fact that their hearts, minds and souls were stripped of all walls and were thus an open book for their followers to read; the fact that their followers recognized and understood their vulnerability, that made them great leaders that others so willingly and passionately followed. If this is the case – is this something that we as leaders can aspire to?
I think so.
I wrote in my post about the art of tearing down constricting walls that I wanted to strip off my own walls because they were not only preventing me from breathing, they were preventing others from seeing and feeling the real passion and enthusiasm I have for them and for my teams, colleagues, and for big ideas that I think can genuinely change the world. I can’t tell you how many times recently I’ve heard others back down from using words that emit passion and enthusiasm because they didn’t want to step outside of what is often considered “proper” corporate behavior. People who’ve literally retracted the word “love” as fast as it rolled off their tongues and who fear embracing the hearts of their customers.
When I think about Moses, Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. I think about the word “love.” I think about people who loved and embraced their followers and their communities. People who empowered their “customers/fans” and acted in their best interest rather than self-interest out of genuine love for them. They let their enthusiasm for their causes – which literally means the spirit of god within – shine through without any hesitation, even when they were most vulnerable.
Can we, as leaders, aspire to such acts of courage…? I know the leaders I most respect and find myself inspired by are the ones who are doing just that. How about you? Please share…
Please consider subscribing so you don’t miss a post…Subscribe Here to receive posts in your in-box automatically. To receive posts via “READER” Subscribe Here – thank you – I’m honored to have you as a reader!
Photo is Put Your Heart Out There by Coach Cassandra Rae.