Here is what I believe is perhaps the greatest litmus test of the quality of a leader:
They do what is RIGHT, not what is EASY!
Let me say it in some other ways. You can tell the strength of a leader by these things:
- They will say what others are thinking, but won't say.
- They will make the tough decision even when it is not popular or comfortable.
- They will make the right decision even when some close family, friends and teammates think it is "wrong." They will obey their gut regardless of the crowd's affirmation.
- They will have the balls (oops, I meant "courage") to make a move that few people will make.
- They will stand strong in their leadership even when their bold move causes a mess. Did someone tell you that courageous leadership was easy? And that there would not be backlash? If you were worried about the aftermath of the decision, it's probably because there WILL BE aftermath. That does NOT automatically mean it is the wrong call.
- They are willing to be the bad guy for a good cause. I observe many leaders that are really good at being the good guy. But they almost never sign up to be the bad guy. They simply avoid any decision or conversation that may position them as such. That is NOT leadership.
- They understand that leadership is not about popularity. If that is what you think it is, then you have not led much.
I have made decisions in the last week that were not popular. But I knew they were right. And I made them.
And I made decisions years ago, that I have NEVER been affirmed for. But I still know they were right. And I would make them again tomorrow if I had to. As much as it hurt.
To me, these are some of the most important qualities of leadership. It is what sets you apart to cause change and build people. Jesus is the most marvelous example of a leader who did and said some of the most controversial and unpopular things! It's one of the many things I love so much about him. And he did it for love. Which is why we need to do it!
(This will either be a chapter in a book one day. Or it may BE the book. I feel this. Deeply.)