By November 26, 2008 1 Comments Read More →

What It Means to Lead

Rod Dreher: What it means to lead | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Viewpoints

“Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It is not power.”

That sounds like a good motto for leaders. Is this the latest from a Toyota leader, like Gary Convis? No, it’s actually from a speech by the new Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, It reminds me of Toyota-isms such as “Lead as if you have no power.”

The new leader of the church (called the “Metropolitan”) has quite a mess to clean up within the church — scandals and leadership voids of all sorts (and I guess I can throw rocks, as I’m Orthodox myself)… it’s just nice that there’s some new leadership who will sort this all out.

If you read the Dallas Morning News piece, you’ll read how Bishop Job was quickly promoted… this is like a GM plant manager being made a VP and then quickly being promoted to, say, replace Rick Wagoner as CEO, being promoted quickly because of his leadership ability and, in particular, “The Speech” that he gave about leadership and turning the church around.

As the column says:

Pay attention, because in an era when people have lost their faith in many institutions, there’s a lesson in leadership here for us all.

The column continues:

Repeating findings of a special investigation, the bishop admitted to the council that the previous administrations of the church were “corrupt” and had “raped” the church, thinking that, as leaders, they were answerable to no one. When those granted power use it only to serve themselves, “it all breaks down.”

People watch what you do and how you do it, not what you say. Abuse authority, and they may obey your lawful orders but will not respect you. Having lost authority, you soon lose power – and the institution crumbles.

And why not? If the church exists only to perpetuate itself, and not for a higher mission, what good is it? The mission is not only the responsibility of leaders. Each member of the church has authority over his or her sphere and must exercise it with care.

How many failed companies and banks (and politicians) could the above apply to? Individual leaders all too often lose their right to lead… which is granted by followers, not dictated by formal position.

The rest of the column, which uses Bishop Jonah’s words in many cases, talks about the need for humility and decency and leadership…. good things to reflect upon as many people might be wondering exactly what to give thanks for in difficult financial times. I’ll give thanks for leaders like Bishop Jonah. What’s happening in the U.S. is a crisis of leadership, I believe — too much selfishness and not enough service of others. I hope we can turn things around.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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1 Comment on "What It Means to Lead"

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  1. Erik says:

    Mark,

    That was a really good piece and quite true.

    Companies fail because of the leaders not because of the employees.

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