John steps up on the stage like he has done a hundred times before. He watches as the eyes of those seated pan along as he moves towards the podium. He thinks back to the past when this moment was terrifying and he laughs to himself. This time- no nervous stomach or sweaty palms. He is over it.
He begins to speak. He is gifted in really grabbing the audience. They are completely engaged and listening intently on every word. John watches as he “sets the hook”. Then he starts to feel it. At first it is barely noticeable yet as he continues to receive positive feedback- it begins to surge in him. He thinks to himself, wow I am really on the mark this morning. They are really loving this stuff. He pans and sees the smiles and head nods. I am really on it today! The surge increases.
After finishing up, he is swarmed with the audience showering him with accolades. They tell him that this was simply the best they have every seen. They tell him that he is completely on the mark. The surge is now so strong that he feels like he is floating. He can’t wipe the smile off of his face. He’s hooked.
John is in the grasp of something stronger than any drug. Power, pride and approval are an insidious trio. They can fool the best of leaders and control their very lives. You can fool yourself into thinking truly insane conclusions. Here are five lies of the power addict:
- They really need me! Almost always a big lie. They will be fine without you. Yes- you are the leader and yes- you are leading, but there is always someone else that can take your place. We are all replaceable. There is likely someone right now waiting to replace you!
- There is no one that can do it better than I can! Another lie. Even if you have special skills and are just amazingly good at what you do, there is always someone else that can either do what you do or learn how to do it. Your skills are not irreplaceable.
- They want me to be tough because they are weak and need a tough leader! Wrong again. They want someone to lead that is caring and understands what is needed. They do not want a tyrant or rule with an iron fist. There is never any excuse for abuse or excessive heavy handedness.
- I know what is best therefore I do not need advice! Way wrong again. We all need to receive counsel and there is none better than those that are actually performing the work. Leaders can loose touch with the day to day activities and challenges. Always best to ask questions before you make decisions.
- I do not need to follow the rules. The rules are for everyone else! This is probably the most dangerous lie. This is the one that often brings down a leader. As a leader, we need to set the example by following the rules. By breaking or taking advantage of the rules by using your position you are discounting the importance of the rules and goals. You are sending the message that you are above the rules. There is no way around this. A great leader will always follow the rules and put in extra effort towards reaching the goals of the group.
The gifted leader can sense the surge and fight off the effects. I say “fight off” because it is not easy. I have a friend who was a pastor and he called it the strongest drug on the planet. We must stay grounded. We must lead with humility. Focus on serving your group and providing them with authenticity, guidance and your experience. That is what they need. Fight the surge! You can do it!