Leading from the Bottom

I have spent a significant part of my adult life working in industry. Over the years I have seen good and bad leaders with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Much of what I have taught, and been taught, about leadership over the years was of limited use in sculpting me into a true leader. Most was the flavor of the day.

As those of you who are regular readers of Dad Talk already know, a number of years ago I found myself without a job for the first time in my adult life. It was a devastating time and a crush to my personal self esteem. I had been a successful leader for many years and held a great deal of pride in my ability to lead and advise other leaders.

Over most of the next year, I found myself questioning almost everything I thought was true. I questioned my knowledge, my intelligence, my understanding, my relationship with God, and most of all myself.

As the months passed by, with little success in landing a job, God began to deal with many of my illusions about myself. He broke my pride and showed me that I was no better than the Savior I professed to believe in. He told me, through a close friend, that “Jesus bent down so I could be made great”. Translated, if I believe Jesus was the greatest leader of all time, and I believed my goal in life was to be more like Him, I had to understand; “if Jesus could bring himself to the lowest point in the human structure, to be treated like an animal, like something without a soul, how could I expect to lead with so much pride”.

As a father, before the job loss, I treated my wife and children with a certain amount of disdain. After all, I was very successful, there wasn’t anything they could tell me that I didn’t already know. I was arrogant and condescending. Not the type of person anyone would like to follow.

During this time I learned many lessons about many avenues of my life, but when it came to leadership, I began to learn about practical application of the leadership model Jesus followed.

Once on the bottom you soon see things from a different perspective. You begin to identify with those whom you have previously seen only as a means to an end. You yourself now embody every bit of what that means. You know the strapping of not having enough, the importance of making your boss happy no matter what they want, no matter how ridiculous, you know the subtleties of innuendo and manipulation as you must to survive.

In my present situation, I am back in a leadership position. I am now charged with helping a business manage it’s people and build it’s strategy. As a father and husband, I am now, once again, responsible for leading my family in a meaningful relationship with each other and with our faith.

I am now aware of what it takes to become a “servant” and to lead from the perspective of a “servant”. I will always appreciate the sacrifices others make to help our team, and our family be successful.

Leading from the bottom, is about realizing none of this is about you. None of the success you have in life or the prosperity you presently are blessed with is because of you. It is about doing everything with a perspective of how it impacts others rather than yourself. Leading from the bottom is about paying forward, about recognizing that all you have is because of your relationship with Him and is strengthened by your ability to humble yourself in every circumstance.

En servicio como padre
Dave

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1 Response to “Leading from the Bottom”


  1. 1 tmichaelcart March 11, 2009 at 12:29 AM

    My Brother,
    What a great post. True, great leaders can always be separated from others by how much of themselves they invest in the people they lead. Of course, Jesus invested his entire being for our salvation…and in so doing, provided the best example of sacrificial leadership in history.

    T. Michael Cart

    Like


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