Leading Thoughts is devoted to leadership so I imagine you will be surprised to hear me say this: not everyone is made to be a leader.
This runs counter to the prevailing beliefs in recent years. Lately, it is as though our society has discovered the subject of leadership. Universities advertise by promising to make their students into leaders. Degrees in leadership are offered to all. Our military recruits by promising to build leaders and bestselling books assure us that we can easily be the leaders we were made to be.
I’m grateful for every person who is made to be a leader and who is helped by all of this, but I say nevertheless that not everyone is made to be a leader. And thank God for it.
The truth is that some people are made to lead, to influence, to be out front, to rally the troops to a great cause and some are not. Some people are made to work quietly in laboratories. Some are made to work in virtual isolation. Some are made to spend years pouring over the numbers, the law, the science, the experiments, or the procedures. Some are made to create and must do it alone for long hours.
We know that this is true every time we use a personality inventory test or a spiritual gifts test or any kind of aptitude evaluation. There are the eagles and there are the otters. There are the ships’ captains and there are the engineers. There are the accountants and there are the directors of public relations. There are the genius mechanics and there are those gifted for sales.
How very much we need the non-leader. We need the person who can ignore the crowd and work for years to specialize without recognition. We need the musician who practices eight hours a day and the researcher we barely understand but who keeps us alive and the geeky kid we all knew in high school who was socially awkward but could fix anything. That kid has given us the iPhone and the GPS and the micro-chip and Nano-technology in medicine and the coffee maker you used this morning.
Now leadership does play a role in all of this. The wise leader knows that not everyone is a leader. This does not make him or her arrogant. Instead, this knowledge forms an obligation to make sure that all gifts and personalities are valued in the firm. This recognition of the diversity of gifts forms a challenge to assure that the geeky specialists are engaged and rewarded as much as the brash socially-oriented ones.
A successful company, just like a successful society, requires a huge range of gifts, personalities, interests and skills. The art of leadership is to team them all without diminishing any. It is to put every different type of person in harness towards a common goal with each receiving the rewards of their labors and each allowed the satisfaction of their work.
Take a look at what you lead. Consider the diversity of gifts required for success. Is every type of person welcomed, encouraged, rewarded, and celebrated? When they are, you and your team are heading toward greatness.