Doing the right thing is not a default position for great leaders to take, it is their only option. While it is important to note a person’s modeled behavior and inspirational speak to determine the level of his/her leadership ability, comportment alone is not enough of a measure. The quality of their decisions must also be part of this evaluation.
The picture of a ballerina or a great athlete comes to mind. They may speak of their craft in glowing terms. They may even inspire their supporting casts in wonderful ways, but it is not until you see them perform that you can determine their level of greatness.We were all meant to lead and doing things that create a greater good is part and parcel of that responsibility. This call to do things that benefit the larger community are similar whether you lead a family, a church group, a band of workers, an organization or a nation. So, is there a way that shows your actions and decisions of will help create a greater world? The following points summarize what I have discovered to be true.
1) There is a knowing within you. No matter how hard you struggled to make your decision, there is a tremendous sense of inner peace once you have done so. This inner peace is a knowing that has no explanation other than your are certain your decision is aligned with your highest self and your most important values.
2) All involved feel inspired. When decision-making is done in an inclusive, transparent manner that includes an analysis of all possible effects. And after love, compassion, courage, generosity and care have been applied, all those involved feel connected to each other by a sense of virtuousness of their decision.
3) An unspoken unity grows between you and all involved. When decision-making flows in the manner described in point 2), a sense of trust in the goodness and integrity grows among all involved. Such trust brings about a unity that inspires all to want to work together on future challenges. This feeling will make people come back again and again to contribute.
4) You can stand behind the consequences of your action. It would be unrealistic to expect all will be happy with the outcome of your decisions. When one is choosing between opposing options where each has merit, those opposing your decision will be upset. If your decision process contained the inclusivity and honesty aforementioned, you will know that you made the best decision you could make for all.
5) There is never violence involved. As singer/songwriter Sting says in his song Fragile,
“Nothing ever comes from violence and nothing ever could.”
Under no circumstances would you ever consider anyone expendable or inferior as you consider your options. Remember, we attract what we project, violence begets violence and nothing good can ever be done at the expense of others. Non-violence and a respect for the inalienable rights of every human being create the environment needed for the healthy evolution of every situation. Great leaders never spew hatred or division. For them, there is no room for racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination in their actions. Nor is there ever any justification for pitting one group as superior to others. Last but not least, they never scape goat others by making them solely responsible for perceived failures.
6) Affecting one group over another is always the last option. Just as the previous point makes the case we attract what we project, willful destruction of others will only attract our own destruction. This does not mean that sometimes hard decisions need to be made, for example, a CEO may have to lay part of his employees off if the company is to survive. However, the decision can be constructive and positive as long it was considered as the last option and people were not sacrificed for the sake of profits or higher dividends promised to share holders.
7) The negative opinions of others don’t matter. One of the most important challenges of creating the greatest benefit for all is when you know your choice and actions may make you unpopular. This is when it is important to remember in your deliberations you are trying to create something better; you are not there to please other people. You may be called indecisive, gutless, ignorant, an elitist and many other such monikers that slice up one’s self esteem and pierce the heart. As you evaluate this displeasure towards you, it is important to remember that some people view the world from a filter of winners and losers. Others from a point of self-interest and yet others view a world as a place where everyone is out to get them. When you are working to create something that benefits the greater whole, you cannot allow those points of view to rule.
8) You bring about a modicum of peace. This point can be the hard to fulfill because peace can seldom be measured. Sometimes your decisions feel like you have just administered the equal distribution of dissatisfaction to all. What is important to you is the knowledge all can move forward constructively from your decision.
9) You are grateful for having been a part of a great process. I consider myself very fortunate for having worked for a great leader, Colorado Governor Roy Romer. His inclusive and deliberate management style, his emphasis on working with everyone for the good of Colorado made me proud to have been a part of his administration. I know I am not alone, for many of my Romer colleagues speak as I do about the experience. Because of Romer, we knew we were doing our best work, and we believed the State of Colorado was benefiting form our effort. Until the last day of his administration, we were sure we were doing great things. This is what working for greater good feels like.
Being a leader is more than holding a title. Just because you are a mother, father, boss, bishop or prime minister does not give you any special insight at being a good leader. What a title does is give you authority. This world will become a better place when all of us who have authority use it towards creating a better world where value is given to every individual and all life forms.
Also published on Medium.