In this C-19 season, there is a great deal of announcing of information. Statistics are fraught with meaning. Each moment brings “Breaking News.” All of it gets repeated. Yet it is how this information is proclaimed that distinguishes the leader from the drama queen.
You’ve seen the drama queen many times. They rush into a meeting and breathlessly announce some new report. When they finish, they eagerly look around the room for signs of the effect they’ve had on everyone. You see, this is their payoff—the emotional response they achieve. They feel no responsibility for the impact of their information. They aren’t intending to elevate or inspire—even to inform. No, they hope for drama. Frankly, they are little better than gossips who whisper tales without regard for the damage done. Both the drama queen and the gossip are addicted to the brief power that having “news” to tell grants them, no matter the results that come of it.
You can tell I’m not a fan of the drama queen—or the gossip. I’ve seen the damage done. I’ve also seen what happens when a person in a position of leadership acts like a drama queen.
You see, a leader doesn’t share information merely to enjoy the emotional impact. A leader shares information by way of guiding, by way of illuminating a path. Information is a tool of leadership, so the information offered is always framed. It is embedded in broader meaning and direction. The last thing the leader ever wants to do is to frighten or create panic. No, the leader calmly tells the truth but always by way of declaring a plan and a vision.
Some of you reading this already know where I am going next: to my man Winston Churchill. During World War II, he told the British people the exact truth: “This isn’t the end. This isn’t even the beginning of the end.” We aren’t there yet, he was saying. We have a long way to go. Then, he added this bit of hope: “But perhaps it is the end of the beginning.” He then went on to explain the plan and what it would cost every man and woman in Britain.
People were grateful for the truth. They needed the vision. They could act on the plan. They gave themselves to the cause because they felt themselves well-led in the pursuit of victory.
Now imagine Churchill declaring how bad things were—how many men had been lost in a recent battle, for example—only for impact. Imagine him being a drama queen who wanted to impress with the weight of what he knew but offered no plan, no vision, no hope. The world would be quite a different place today.
You are a leader, however else you define yourself. You wield God-given influence because you have God-given gifts. You were born for the very time we are going through now. So don’t be a drama queen. Tell the truth about what is happening but don’t tell it simply to impress or produce an emotional response. Frame it. Embed it. Make it part of pointing a way out of the darkness. The simple words “we are going to get through this” could mean everything to the souls you influence.