What Happens When Leaders Get it Right

Perhaps like your city, the first ten minutes of our evening news are packed with murders, tragic fires, car accidents, and natural disasters. Then we have 8 minutes of weather, 10 minutes of sports news, and finally, a positive “human interest” story to send us off with a smile.

But the stories that really boost ratings and pique interest begin with, “BREAKING NEWS! Leader Behaves Badly.” We hardly get through a news cycle without one. Like a car wreck at the Indy 500, Bad Leader Stories are memorizing. We sit glued to the screen as corrupt politicians, unfaithful pastors, conniving business moguls, and immoral athletes make headlines—too often.

Why are we so drawn to these? Maybe because a leader’s failure makes us feel better about ourselves, gives us someone to blame for our apathy, missteps, and ignorance, or simply make interesting lunch conversations in our otherwise boring lives.

But what if we could change the focus? What if we highlighted “Leader Gets it Right!!” stories? Why not tell more of those? YES! We should! Because when leaders get it right (and many do!), great things happen.

When a leader gets it right…

  • Energy flows toward creating solutions rather than hurling accusations
  • Team members feel empowered versus overpowered and overwhelmed
  • A compelling vision becomes more important than the ego-driven “visionary”
  • Conversations are truthful and gracious, instead of ruthless and tasteless
  • Tough decisions are boldly faced instead of cautiously feared
  • Movement is fostered by a mission, not forced through manipulation
  • Justice is rightly pursued not wrongly ignored
  • People feel honored and valued, not shamed and used
  • Success is measured by how we treat people, not just how we make profits
  • Promotions are earned for performance, not engaging in politics

We need more leaders who get it right, and more stories about them! We need to ferret out real leaders from the posers, from the platform personalities who talk the leader game at conferences and conventions, but who play by a different set of rules behind closed doors. Lance Witt in his book, Replenish, compares front stage leadership posers to what is going on “backstage” where character, the soul, and the real personality are seen.

Let’s tell “Leader Gets it Right” stories, about real leaders whose performance “backstage” is congruent with what we see upfront. You know, when we are off-camera, away from the buzz and spotlights, and after senior management leaves the room and all the posing and posturing is over.

Some leaders feel pressured to perform even though their souls are damaged and lives are fizzling out. They hide their broken parts and put on a false self for the world to see. Others, sadly, are just mean,  “Jekyll and Hyde” types, who show up great publicly but are awful to work with, toxic to their staffs and really self-centered, ego-driven tyrants.

Ask people who get to see leaders “backstage” and ask, “Is she the same person you see upfront in public settings? Is he as funny, winsome, easy-going, and likable as the front stage person we see?” Backstage is often where the real leader emerges. The stage lights may be off but the soul lights are on, shining brightly in the darkness.

Let’s vow to become authentic leaders with healthier souls, admitting we are not the center of the universe, refusing to let the front stage pressure to perform turn us into posers. Let’s get it right and tell the stories of the many leaders who do—every day, at every level of leadership.

When leaders get it right, great things happen! And great stories are told. Real headliners.  

BREAKING NEWS!! Leader Gets it Right!! …Business grows!!! …Church thrives!!! …City reduces violent crime!!!

Now that’s great news.

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