The One Thing Good Leaders Must Do To Become Great

If you want to become a good leader, or better yet – a great leader – then there is one thing that must happen. This one thing is not fun, nor is it inspiring, and rarely is it ever written about. But this one thing is crucial:

GREAT leaders must die to themselves.

Dying is not easy, but in a paradoxical way, it is life-giving. When leaders die to their own agendas and forfeit their attempts to control other people, they actually gain. On first read that may make no sense, but it’s true. Ironically, the act of forgoing the good of others for the sake of our own benefit (selfishness) actually becomes the most dogged enemy on our path to achieving what we desire.

For instance:

  • When a person desires accolades and attention more than serving others, they lose the respect of their team.
  • When a leader covets power and control, they tend to gain it temporarily only to lose it in the long-run.
  • When a mind becomes self-absorbed, others feel it and tend to distance themselves.
  • When “Self” is the centerpiece of your life then everyone else appears to be a subject in service of your desires, robbing you of life-giving relationship that brings context and meaning to the things you accomplish.

On the other hand, when leaders give themselves away for the highest possible good of those they lead, they tend to gain influence through their impact which quickly leads to respect, honor, and even followers.

Great leaders die to their self-absorption, their self-pursuit, and their selfish control. When they do, they gain more easily what they had tried so hard to obtain.

Consequently, the dying process actually leads people towards the life and leadership they had always desired.

A Quick Self Assessment

When you see other people succeeding, what are your thoughts? Are your thoughts focused on them in a congratulatory way or are your thoughts consumed by you and how you should do more? Do you get frustrated dwelling on and speculating about why you didn’t get a certain opportunity? What about when…

  • Someone else gets the promotion.
  • Facebook shows an anniversary trip to Tahiti.
  • A friend’s child makes the team that your child didn’t.
  • Your buddy launches a new startup that takes off while you continue the grind in your current job.
  • A friend’s spouse seems to have think of everything while yours seems to have forgotten the little things of romance and love.
  • Your boss just returned from a pro sports tournament on a private jet.
  • Or you see a picture on Instagram of your friends in incredible places

The Price of Envy

Unfortunately, envy and the tendency to think of “self” first produces insecurity, which becomes the ultimate enemy of liberating leadership and healthy relationships.

Whatever the case may be, whatever is happening in life to cause you envy or look to yourself first, it is a dangerous trap. It lures you away from dying to yourself and instead tempts you to place yourself, your needs, and your agenda above the good of others. It draws you in, filling your thoughts with self-talk that punishes you with self-pity and defeatism, while simultaneously secreting negative thoughts about others and turning them into the villains in your own personal soap opera.

Envy produces insecurity, which is itself a combination of instability, hopelessness, and self-pity. When we give power to our insecurity we give it permission to direct the screenplay of our drama. Under its direction our actions create patterns of fear, passive aggression, and a relentless desire things we don’t have.

And to think, it all starts with a simple thought – a thought about what we don’t have or a worried consideration of what/who we are not becoming.

The Reward of a “For Others” Mentality

To be secure, on the other hand, is to be mature. To be dependable. To be “for others” more than for ourselves. Once we get to the end of our desire for that which is not to be, we can begin to build on who we are, what we have, and the hope that spreads out before us.

So be intentional about fighting envy today, and remember that dying can lead to life.

The only cure for insecurity is to die to ourselves so that you may live for others. Only then will true, deep influence accumulate and healthy relationships grow to their greatest potential.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how envy and selflessness affect your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!