After the last post, we see another story that appears to offer more of the same. It appears that there are serious issues with the legend of Lance Armstrong. I still think the best response was written in August (although I have only just clocked this) from the Guardian’s Matt Seaton:
The most important lesson of the Lance Armstrong story, though, is the hardest to prepare for and guard against: our own gullibility and willing complicity. What is astounding and disturbing is that one man – a dominant personality as well as a dominant athlete – was able to enforce his will, isolate, bully and silence his doubters and critics, and win the world’s top cycling event year after year and make people believe in him, despite there being, apparently, dozens of witnesses to its utter phoniness. Too many people had too much invested in the Lance Armstrong story, and the power of persuasion followed the money.
We still have so many relational issues to address in this world – lets face them head on, one by one, if necessary.
The last couple of weeks have seen an extraordinary number of revelations regarding Jimmy Savile and the ‘open secrets’ regarding his off screen persona, character and habits. The stories are gross and heartbreaking.
However, the aspect of the stories that I have found astounding, concern the control that Jimmy Savile had over people. He kept the allegations of inappropriate behaviour hidden from the public gaze because people were afraid to challenge him. It was not just individuals but organisations and news agencies. This is an extraordinary hold that he had over people.
This type of control is not new, it can be seen in many leaders who have a control over their organisations, individuals, churches, in fact anywhere. Leaders who can sit in meetings and ‘paralyse’ other contributions, use their position to enforce control over proceedings and care only for the agenda that they desire. If individuals speak out, they are quickly silenced. These behaviours are unhealthy and should not be tolerated, yet they abound and go unchecked.
If only people would stand together against such abuse, unite against behaviours that are destructive and work together for a healthy style of leadership that begins with humility.
Thankfully not everyone is guilty of the types of crimes that have filled our papers this week, but there are still those who are broken and laid low because of individuals who abuse their power over others.
Are you prepared to stand up and be counted? If you are, I trust that you will not find yourself alone.
When watching the parade and gun salute for the Queen, in Hyde Park, yesterday, there was an unexpected spectacle as one of the horses was ‘spooked’ by the events. This was not a part of the programmed events but there was a valuable lesson.
The crowd were taken by the horse acting out of character, it was bucking and acting in a way that was out of control. However, whilst this was happening, all the participants of the parade ignored the horse and continued with their responsibilities. Everything else appeared as clockwork. Horses are herding animals and so as the parade closed, the bucking horse followed the herd.
In leadership, we often spend hours concentrating on the ‘bucking horse’ at the expense of everything else. There are times that we could ignore the commotion and see no apparent negative affects to our needed outcomes.
Do we spend too much time and focus too much attention on the ‘bucking horse’? Who are you watching? Who is stealing your time?
Who is in charge? Who has all the control? Who can make a difference?
If you are in a large meeting group, wait until something controversial is said, then look at peoples eyes. The person that most people glance at, in that moment, has all the power. This is not difficult to do, the next step is to watch where that individuals eyes look – that can tell you a little bit more.
How deep is too deep? In the sea, it does not really matter how far you are from the shore, if you cannot swim, as 10 yards may be too much.
So how deep is too deep?
Too deep is when you have no chance, no hope, no place to go – there are very few of us in that deep, if any at all.
Leaders claim to be good delegators, followers claim that leaders are too controlling but, in truth, what is the place of balance?
I believe that the best leaders provide boundaries yet allow complete freedom within those boundaries. The point of control is the boundary line, the place of delegation lies within the boundary line. If people work at the appropriate place, there should be balance.
A great deal of time can be spent by leaders in an attempt to control the content of peoples daily work. Perhaps time would be better spent by shaping the context for our workers and allowing their creativity to determine the content. If, as leaders, we do a good job shaping the appropriate context and provide good boundaries, we may be surprised by what ensues.
Have you ever thought about the job title you possess and how others interact with it? Does the title we possess matter more to us than our own integrity, the way we live or how we behave? In conversation this week, I have heard various comments regarding titles and how the title conveys power or control to others and how we can use title, or ‘people of title’ to our benefit.
In youth ministry appointments, people may spend longer debating whether the job title should be ‘youth pastor’, ‘youth minister’, ‘youth worker’ or some other derivative. The conclusions usually relate to how people view the title rather than the role that needs to be fulfilled. When looking for speakers at events, we look for the ‘high powered’ or the ‘celebrity’ as they can provide an extra endorsement, in business we love the titles to demonstrate our impressive abilities – President, Vice-President of Operations, CEO, CFO, Director, Principal and so forth and so on.
Titles can be necessary and important but, in my opinion, we need to be careful that we do not hold these things in awe, rather in humility. The badge that we wear can easily be removed, the person that we truly are can never be taken from us. Are we people of integrity, working for truth, humility and justice? Or are we those that are seeking the best seat in the house, with the ‘best’ company? How do we view our own title? Certainly some questions that leave room to ponder.