Below are some good thoughts on leadership from Erwin McManus at the Catalyst West Leadership Conference:
Our gift to the world is to help people have meaning in the world – What a great gift we can give to someone when we come alongside them, assist them, and help them to live a meaningful life.
Our world is so messed up at times and it messes up the people who live in it. We have commercials and ads bombarding us day and night telling us what we should want out of life. How we should want money, fame, sex, and other things that are shallow and meaningless.
As leaders it's our job as a secure, centered person is to help people have a life of meaning. We need to show them how they can live a life that has eternal value, that will leave a legacy for the good work they have done long after they have passed away.
There is a lot of pressure on leaders to be someone they are not – If you're a leader, I'm sure you feel this. You know that there is pressure from the people "below you" and "above you." The people above you want you to be more results focused and to hit your numbers and to do good work. The people below you just want a piece of you. They want to feel that you took the time to get to know them and support them.
Leaders are always being pulled in different directions to become someone who is different. Leaders in the nonprofit sector are pulled to be someone different to their board of directors, to their staff, to community constituents, and to people who volunteer their time.
I believe another area of pressure comes from media. Anything a leader does is scrutinized by media for every little decision and word said. I'm convinced that political leaders don't script their speeches because they want to say the right things, they script their speeches because they are afraid they'll say something wrong. If they say something incorrectly, they know the media will eat them alive.
Our culture confuses fame and greatness – Yes, as a leader I've learned that fame means nothing. Just because someone knows my name and is familiar with me, doesn't mean I'm great. If I did care (which I don't) that someone knew my name, it would be that they knew it because I did some good work in our community and in the world. I would hope they knew me because I had made a difference in their life and others. Many people are famous, but it doesn't mean they are great. It doesn't mean they have done anything great in the world to have helped people.