Friday, March 22, 2013

Leaders and the Opinions of Others

Leaders must take others' opinions of them, as is said, "with a grain of salt."

This doesn't mean that leaders should be heedless of others' opinions. But leaders must realize that assessments of their leadership will tend to gravitate toward one or the other of two extremes, adulation or condemnation. In other words, the people with the most extreme positive and negative opinions are the ones likeliest to speak and each will give leaders a distorted view of their leadership.

Leaders must use a different compass than the crowds.

In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul confronts the members of a church he had founded and from whom he had been absent for some time, for their arrogance, among other things. In their arrogance, they had begun aligning themselves behind preachers who had served them, rather than behind the God revealed in Christ that the preachers had proclaimed and the faith in Christ each had commended. Paul took the Corinthian Christians to task in this way:
You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been put in charge of God's secret truths. Now, I am not at all concerned about being judged by you or by any human standard; I don't even pass judgment on myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am really innocent. The Lord is the one who passes judgment on me. (1 Corinthians 4:1-4, Good News Translation)
Ultimately, every person--including every leader--is accountable to the God revealed to the world in Jesus Christ. Christ is the only true compass. Even with Christ as Lord, no leader will ever come close to batting 1.000 in their decision-making.

And leaders, as servants, must be accountable both to God and to others.

But leaders who play to the crowds, be they their employees, their citizens, or their flock, will never lead people anywhere.

Leaders must live with the kind of confidence that Abraham Lincoln possessed and talked about as he led the country through the Civil War: "I do the very best I know how-the very best I can; and mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

Leaders must take others' opinions of them with "a grain of salt."

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