Quote to Ponder

I’ve been pondering this one lately…

Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.

from Tribes by Seth Godin


As you start dreaming for 2009, are you willing to face the discomfort necessary to lead the vision in your heart?

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  • Andy Borgmann December 22, 2008  

    I sort of disagree on this one. I feel leadership isn’t scarce. In fact the problem is the exact opposite. Thanks to the internet and the “self-centered” generation of the baby boomers and their offspring, the problem is that we have all got it in our minds that everyone is a leader…thus nobody are followers…which thus leads to the conclusion that no one is really a leader.

    I remember reading an article about Harvard applicants in 2006. There was a question regarding whether the senior was a leader or a follower. One, out of the entire pool of applicants, wrote about how they were a follower. They were accepted to Harvard (amidst fantastic grades) but also because of the insight from their essay.

    Can this world function if we all think we are leaders?

  • Scot Justice December 23, 2008  

    As parents (who are leaders) you have to be willing to inconvenience yourself in order to raise a child properly. For example, we have a rule that our daughter Hannah has to be within our eyesight at a store. To train her on this, we had to be willing to leave a store when she broke this rule. To drive home this rule, we left stores on several occasions when she was 2-3 years old. Yes, it would have been more convenient for Linda and me to complete our shopping, but Hannah wouldn’t have learned that we meant what we said.

    At 5, Hannah knows that we’ll follow through on consequences we tell her that will result from bad behavior. The reason we are at this point is that Linda and I are willing to have personal discomfort in our leadership of our daughter.

    I told Linda that Hannah is at a disadvantage having me as a father because I had been a manager for 17 years and I’m used to people getting mad at me because of the way I lead/manage .

    This is the same way I managed employees in business (although I wish a few people I’ve lead would wander off, never to be seen again). It is far easier for a business leader to try and be buddies with subordinates than to lead them into improving their performance. You can have genuine relationships with subordinates while at the same time you are leading (I’m a big proponent of servant leadership and management by walking around, but that’s another topic).


  • Jenni Catron December 23, 2008  

    @Andy – I think you make some great points. The distinction for me is that I believe that true leaders know how to be great followers as well. Not all of us can lead all the time and honestly even some who think they are leaders, really are not. Leadership has become such a commonly thrown around term and that’s exactly why I like the above quote – I believe that only true leaders are really willing to experience the discomfort and challenges that are a part of true leadership.

    @Scot – I love the parenting analogy! I don’t have children myself but I suspect parenting is one of the greatest leadership journeys. Thanks for the insight!

  • Kevin December 24, 2008  

    Man, all are great insights.

    Scot, I am a pastor and a business manager (pays the bills).

    I believe in servant leadership, and walk around management. Some of my emloyees get frustrated that I am out and about at times, because they think I should be hunkered in over reports. I love the parenting.

    Andy, your insights are interesting. I think the church has thrown leadership term into too many facets of life.

    The original post, is all too true! A few in my church and company want to be leaders, but get mad when they must do something uncomfortable or hard.

  • janowen December 25, 2008  

    Jenni, this is a question I’ve been asking myself, especially in regards to one area of calling and holy discontent in my life. I can comment on this regarding my current role of leadership – it’s simply been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Remaining faithful has been the hardest calling. To lead through the fire has been heartbreaking. It’s not sexy or glamorous and it doesn’t always feel like a win.But last night when I stood on the stage and saw my church say “Merry Christmas” and then worshiped with them I was reminded again of the treasure and privelege of being in ministry.

    Leadership is hard (if you are paying attention and have been at it any length of time) and lonely and sometimes dirty and painful. Do everyone a favor – if you’re not willing to lead THROUGH the difficult places, don’t lead now. They will come!

  • Chad Jarnagin January 5, 2009  

    Tribes is a great read. I’m enjoying it, again. 🙂

    Very encouraged.