Of Mixing Bowls, Feeding Souls and Seeking Recognition

by  Mandy Vavrinak  |  Leadership Development

I saw this post a few days ago that asked the question, “Do You Really Want Your Child to be a Leader?” and posited that what most parents are thinking about when they answer, “Yes, of course!” is not really leadership at all. From the post:

The truth is that while leadership can often be a truly rewarding experience, it is often a lot of hard work.  Leaders have responsibilities whether their team wins or loses. They are often ridiculed, criticized, and they work well beyond ‘their fair share’ with little to show for it. Leadership is not a popularity contest and it isn’t about being the star.

Think about that… Leadership isn’t about being the star. Most of us, immediately, would agree and say things like leading is about the team’s success, or creating positive change in the world, or mentoring, or serving, or a host of other things which are not self-focused. My challenge is, would you do those things if you NEVER got recognition for any of them? If your part was never known to ANYONE else? Would you do what needed to be done, lead for vision, change and success of the mission if you aren’t even recognized as a bit player on the stage? Most of us, regardless of our verbal or written positions on why we lead, have a bit of ego in there somewhere that likes, needs even, the positive recognition that comes with leading a successful team or effort. We’re only human, after all, right?

So, how do we prepare to lead when leading isn’t going to feed our egos?

Also from the post I mentioned above:

The ingredients we mix into a bowl determines the dish we prepare… What ingredients are going in your child, and will they make a leader? What books do they read? What games do they play? What do they listen to? What movies do they watch? Who do they admire? With whom do they spend their time?

The same is true for adults who seek to be the kind of leaders who do the job even when no one knows they’ve done so. What is in your life’s mixing bowl? What are you reading, thinking, learning, playing, watching or hearing? How are you feeding your soul instead of your ego so that you have the knowledge and desire to lead when leading is necessary, regardless of the personal reward or recognition? We are always moving toward a particular outcome in this life. Even when we think we’re standing still, the world does not, and it runs on past us, effectively moving us in the opposite direction. How do you choose your path consciously, evaluate regularly, and lead purposefully? How do you stay motivated?


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What People Are Saying

Teri Aulph  |  21 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Provocative content, Mandy. After spending many years in Human Resources (not aways the most popular of functions), I agree that true leadership is moving forward in doing what is ‘best’ from a leadership perspective for the sake of the greater employee population, certainly not for how it does or doesn’t reflect on the person. In developing HR talent, I believe one of the most important aspects to drive home is that it is a support function and HR leads through people. It is not for the ego-driven personality. Thank you for such a well-written piece!

Leadership Development  |  22 Feb 2011  |  Reply

Great post. This reminds me of the four leadership paradoxes. The Ambition Paradox: Leadership is a humble act undertaken by ambitious people. The Assumption Paradox: Everyone has to make decisions based on assumptions, but our assumptions are often wrong. Worldview Paradox: A leader has to understand multiple worldviews – and yet operate in his or her own. The Succession Paradox: All leaders must plan for their own departure.

Kelly Croy  |  05 Aug 2011  |  Reply

I am the author of the piece you quoted. I appreciate you referencing and quoting my blog and I greatly appreciate the link to my site. I am a speaker and performance artist and I love our open discussion on leadership. Thank you so much bringing attention to such an important area in life. We all lead. I have a follow-up to the post you quoted that will go live tomorrow morning. I hope you and your readers will join me. http://www.kellycroy.wordpress.com Blog Post on ‘Parenting a Leader’ scheduled for morning. You can get it first by subscribing here: http://t.co/w3yAHkf Thank you.

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