What the Ultimate Goal of Your Leadership Should Be
What is the ultimate goal of your leadership?
Is it to increase your profits? To develop a better team? Or to create a stronger family? Maybe yours is to grow your organization, or to have happy clients, customers, or patients. When we aspire to lead, we question the goal of our leadership from time to time, especially when we feel defeated or deflated. But the ability to answer that question can make all the difference for you and those you lead.
Allow me to share three essential elements we must be clear about in order to determine the ultimate goal of our leadership.
First, we must agree on a common definition of leadership. While there are many ways to explain it, I currently understand and define leadership this way: Leadership is taking people great places, while honoring the human spirit.
Be clear on who you lead.
The first step in clarifying the goal of your leadership is to be clear on who you are currently leading and who you would like to lead. It is equally important that we understand who to exclude as well.
Don’t include everyone. Many times we think that since we are leaders, we simply have a special gift to lead everyone we come into contact with. That’s not possible. We can only lead those with whom we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships. While we should aim to impact every life we touch, I think leading another person or a group of people should be something we designate specifically for relationships.
Don’t include yourself. While many people talk about personal leadership, where you lead yourself (ie: taking yourself great places), I find that term somewhat confusing. I understand the concept of personal development. But I like to reserve the word leadership, as it is traditionally understood, as a word connected with others.
If you can, take time to write down who you are currently leading and who you would like to lead. For most of us, this will include those in our families and the teams we work with. Some of us may be blessed to make an impact in other places such as our church, a volunteer organization, our community, or even on a national or international stage. Don’t just include those you have authority over. As advised by John Maxwell in his book The 360 Leader, aim to lead down, lead sideways, and lead up.
Be clear on where you are taking people.
Why is it important to define what great places you are going with others? Because too many times, we just get tired, unfocused, or sloppy. We start relegating leadership to simply the business of “running things.” Great leaders are on a mission to go great places.
Great places as individuals: My goal is that those around me become bigger, better, and more confident people. I want to see them mature and develop. I want them to feel empowered to try more, to dare more, and to become more. My goal is that I can touch the lives of the people in my world and help them go great places from the inside out. I want people to say of me, “You meet a thousand people and nothing changes, then you meet one person and everything changes.” For me, this isn’t about vanity. I believe this should be the mission of everyone. The greatest commandment according to Jesus, is to love God with all your heart and your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Touching the lives of all (but especially those I lead) is my life mission.
Great places as a team: When people go great places as individuals, then collectively as a team, we will soar. We must determine to do something great for our organization, for our customers, for our community, for our world. We must challenge ourselves to make a difference—together—outside of our own four walls.
In terms of destination, it can be reasonably asked if profit should be our ultimate goal? I don’t think so. It is not for me. Many accomplishments in life feel good and are desirable, like money, success, and position; but I don’t think those should be the motivation of our life and leadership. Moreover, I think when personal gain is our ultimate goal, our ability to lead others becomes severely hampered.
Here is how I understand profit and practice it: We should make the most profit possible, and perhaps grow the largest organization possible—so we may make the biggest difference possible. We all lose sight of the big picture sometimes. We must remind ourselves that life is not about getting. It should be first about becoming, and ultimately about giving.
I believe leadership that produces great profits without making a great difference is failure. There are countless numbers of markedly profitable companies who have shown no regard for others. People are seen as mere casualties of progress when the bottom line is the ultimate goal. We must not succumb to these empty pursuits.
If you have clearly identified who you lead and where you are taking them, then you are ready for the final key in defining your ultimate leadership goal: honoring the human spirit.
Be clear that we must honor the human spirit.
Honoring others is not an option. It is both my motivation and my method.
Honor is more than respect or admiration; more than esteem or veneration; more than value or appreciation. When you honor someone, you do all these things and more. You see them as God sees them, in His image. Real leaders do not trample on people’s dignities. They do not cross boundaries of respect. Even when we must be firm and resolute, we must always be grounded in honor when it comes to the way we treat others.
Actionable Step: Ask yourself these three questions regularly: Who are the people I am leading? To what great places am I taking them? And am I honoring their human spirit?
About me: I just bought a harmonica with a stand, so I can free my hands to play my ukulele or another instrument. My young nieces and nephews got a kick out of it today. They thought their uncle was really funny!
What I am Reading Now: Hearing God:Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, by Dallas Willard. Still reading. On page 120 as of last night. Great book so far. Will give you synopsis soon!
For Further Reading: