Leaders can easily get addicted to the feeling of power. Watch out, because once they get a taste of power, it’s really hard to sit down. People, on the other hand, can easily get addicted to cowardice. Watch out, because once they learn the art of excusing themselves from the dance, they’ll never want to stand up and own the situation at hand. And so the dance goes: leaders stand (preferably on something tall), and people sit (preferably in a location where they won’t draw any attention to themselves). One of the best things a leader can do to ignite the unmotivated is to sit down and invite them to stand up and get a different view—like the one where you’re standing on your own feet. Ironic isn’t it, we’ve reached a point in time when leaders need to learn to sit down and people need to learn to stand up.
When leaders only stand, they look more like parents than partners. And when people only sit, they look more like victims than responsible players. Of course, the dilemma we face today will not be solved with a simple role reversal. As if we could say, “Now on the count of three I want all the leaders to sit down and everyone else to stand up.” That might change things temporarily, but in the long run we would simply exchange dysfunctions. What we need are leaders and people who have a sense of when to stand and when to sit. There will be times everyone should stand. Other times will require everyone to sit. Knowing when to do what is going to take leaders and people who are awake–leaders and people who are actually living life rather than simply preparing to die (but that’s another topic—sort of).
So, as a leader, are you learning to view leadership from the ground, from the floor?