I have come to a rather startling conclusion, an epiphany, if you will: Its way more fun for leaders to work together for the greater good, than to fly solo for personal or corporate benefit.
Incredible, large scale TV production.
I recently had the honour of producing a major televised concert event for a large organization – three nights presenting eighteen musical acts and a cadre of comedians, often scheduled as tightly as every fifteen minutes. And the bands represented everything from a four-piece blue grass combo to an eighty-member gospel choir.
Needless to say, it was a logistical challenge, especially for an economy-mode staff stretched thin as a fourth-quarter budget.
Most of the acts were courteous and understanding, but a surprising number turned out to be what you might euphemistically call difficult, behaving as if the entire night was planned around their performance alone. They were demanding, inflexible and uncooperative. One singer refused to go on until he was served a cup of a special brand of coffee. Never mind that we were trying to juggle scores of performers and create a seamless show for a live audience of 5200.
These artists were copping a ‘tude, we used to call it. An bad attitude.
But here’s the corollary.
The acts who behaved the most professionally backstage also happened to be the best and most popular on-stage; the leaders. Those who were the most uncooperative and demanding turned out to be mediocre performers at best; the followers. I’m convinced that there’s no accident in that.
The leaders were a delight to work with. They showed up to the afternoon sound-check on time and prepared, and arrived early for the performance according to our instructions. They looked for ways to be helpful, knowing full well that they were a part of the whole. Cooperative was the key word for them. And because of that, their portion of the show ran smoothly, and they ended up looking good. Give and it shall be given unto you. It’s true – when you help others, you help yourself. The leaders looked for ways to make the overall program successful. They knew that by working together the program would be better and they would appear and perform better.
But there’s more to this than just producing a television event.
All groups gathered into a larger body tend to behave as if their needs are pre-eminent, whether it’s schools at a spelling bee, or divisions in a company, or sports teams at a tournament.
I work in all forms of media and television, and believe me, each department on a TV crew can act as if they were the only ones on the set – the wardrobe department must have priority; the camera department is indispensable; the art department needs immediate attention. You get the idea.
The same is true for any gathering of groups. Take Congress, for instance, where the needs (or wants) of a single district or state can hold up the needs of the entire nation. They call it gridlock. I call it being selfish. That’s following not leading.
Leaders act together for the greater good, not just for personal benefit.
You have to possess a truly outstanding talent or ability to justify an attitude. But by and large, the ones with the talent seldom have an attitude. Only the wannabes. And their only interest is in hiding their insecurities behind a wall of bluster and self-importance.
3 Leadership Reminders for the Greater Good
- We all need to be mindful of those around us when we’re a part of a larger group or discussion. It’s been famously suggested that we need to think globally and to act locally. Well, that truly applies to each of us whether our globe is our home, our show, our denomination, or organization or our nation.
- All like-minded organizations that share the same goals can do more together than we can apart. When we pool our energy, focus and resources we become a greater force for good. Can we truly see the greater good?
- We have a mandate to lead people in conversations that bring the primary cause to the forefront. Model this behaviour to our teams and groups and watch how fast they catch the vision and engage. People like to work in groups.
Let’s consider each other, first. True leaders walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Our actions speak must speak louder than words as surely as faith without works is dead.