Building Self-less Leadership – Nu Leadership Series

“A good leader needs to have a compass in his head and a bar of steel in his heart.”
Robert Townsend

Wouldn’t life be easy if our teams were focused on the same things? Our schools would run better. Our businesses would be more efficient. Well, even our personal relationships, would operate much smoother. If you follow my premise, what would happen if a leader was self-less instead of self-centered? Would organizations be better?

Let’s review the easy one –religious institutions. Assumption one is that a preacher should be God-centered. Albert Einstein once said, “God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.” Clearly, it is not a God problem, but a man problem. Many religious leaders of today do not promote the development of their laymen leaders. Power is usually centralized. Governing boards such as trustees and deacons are dismantled. I feel this strategy is to maintain control and neutral the impacts of difficult people.

Miller, the author of The Empowered Leader, argues that understanding politics is important, even for spiritual leaders. Miller also feels that a leader must be an effective politician because this leader must be able to bargain or cut side deals. The author’s major issue is that the leader shouldn’t abuse his power.

Likewise, business leaders and nonprofit organizational leaders struggle with politics and the issues of power. Let’s talk politics. Draft, an organizational behavior guru, defines politics as either a self-serving behavior or a natural organizational phenomenon. In Draft’s political model, he describes an organization with separate groups fighting for power. Look at the daily list of scandals by organizational leaders. What would happen if these fallen leaders cared more about the organization than themselves? Can these fallen leaders be persuaded that their “heavy hitting” politics didn’t save them from destruction? Are you on an upward climb on the corporate leader? Do you want to be power broker? I would caution you not to forget your customers and your employees. Think about them and the many advantages of becoming a self-less leader. Put your followers first and forget about the politics. Start today, and your people will follow.


Daft, R. (1995). Organization Theory and Design. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.

Miller, C. (1995). The Empowered Leader. United States of America: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(c) 2006 by Daryl D. Green