I wrote a blog yesterday answering the question what are the biggest challenges facing a leader.
Having thought about it some more, I think I would answer it differently today, in a slightly more philosophical way.
That’s not to say that I think the challenges I wrote about yesterday on Communication, Connectedness and Inspiring people are not important challenges, it’s just that thinking about if from a different perspective, I have a different answer.
I think one of the biggest challenges leaders face is maintaining their own principles. The higher up the greasy pole we climb, the more our principles and ‘core values’ get questioned. We then have to maybe make trade offs and compromises.
That’s not to say that we sell out on our principles, but maybe that we need to prioritize them and focus on the ones that we believe are more important, and let some of the lesser ones go.
Imagine if you had the possibility to be the next Pope, according to Forbes Magazine, the Pope is the fifth most influential leadership position in the world.
This would give you tremendous opportunity to do good, to serve people, to maybe make some real changes in the world.
But imagine if you were very strong on fighting: sexual abuse in the church; for women priests; and say vatican corruption; but that the people who controlled the election told you there is no way you could be elected if you were to look to fight for all three.
That they could guarantee you would be Pope if you chose to make a strong stand on sexual abuse, and woman priests, but stayed away from Vatican Corruption, and that the rest of your energy should be spent on making Catholicism relevant in the 21st century, and focus more on helping the poor and growing the church.
Would you accept, would you let your anti corruption principle go in order to achieve two of your goals?
Many leaders face similar dilemmas, I’m sure Barrack Obama has had to put many of the plans he would like to have implemented on hold.
I think this is the biggest challenge leaders face, maybe not in their current role, but if they want to go higher up the leadership ladder.
I have copied some of the dialogue from the movie Braveheart, when William Wallace is given the opportunity to sell out on his principles.
Princess Isabelle: The king desires peace.
William Wallace: Longshanks desires peace?
Princess Isabelle: He declares it to me, I swear it. He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold which I am to pay to you personally.
William Wallace: A lordship and titles. Gold. That I should become Judas?
I think we would all like to think we would have principles as strong as William Wallace, but until we are truly put to the test we will never really know.
I am not suggesting that we would all become Judas, but we will definitely have to make compromises or prioritize our principles.
This is what I think is a leaders biggest challenge, especially if they wants to advance!