A Bully or A Servant – You Pick

For the last week or so, we have all watched the national news and witnessed the conflict that Russia initiated with Ukraine. At the center of this conflict are two men in charge. Two men leading countries that border one another. While the countries have many similarities, they have many differences as well. They both were once part of the old Soviet Union, and they are quite different today with respect to their form of government and with respect to their country’s leader.

While I obviously don’t personally know either of the men in charge, I have witnessed enough in the last two days to form an opinion of each based on their actions, motivations, and responses in the midst of conflict. You have likely witnessed the same things. I have seen the Russian president initiate war with no clear reason other than he had the power to do so. This Russian leader appears to come across very stoic, self centered, uncaring, and cold toward anyone’s needs other than his own. He directs others with intimidation and fear tactics. People seem to do what he wants to avoid punishment as opposed to trusting him and following his leadership. I am not even sure that it’s really appropriate to refer to him as a leader. It is not clear whether anyone is really following him. The Russian people may just be complying with him to avoid the consequences of disobedience. If they aren’t following, he is not leading!

I see just the opposite with respect to the president of Ukraine. While, to be honest, I had not heard of this man prior to the last few weeks. I know very little about his background, can’t necessarily vouch for his character before this conflict, but I can tell you what I have seen recently. I see a leader standing strong with his people providing hope, displaying strength, and leading in the midst of unbelievable challenges. While so many in his position would have fled days ago, he placed others needs ahead of his own and stayed. He is publicly providing guidance through the conflict (addressing issues), encouraging others to join him in the fight (motivating people), and communicating on a world stage to spread their message (unifying a movement). Right now he is the leader I aspire to be.

Let’s move from that comparison and situation and take the significance level down to where we are engaged today. We are likely not engaged in a life and death conflict in the manner that these two men are today. However, we have our own conflicts and issues that we are facing as leaders responsible for other people. The question we have to wrestle with is how are we dealing with issues, treating our people, and maneuvering through our challenges? Are we focused on our own needs, ambitions, and desires or are we seeking the best for the organization and people we lead? Do team members follow us because they trust that we are seeking their best interest or are they avoiding punishment of some sort? Do your team members see you serving them and sacrificing for them or just demanding more from them?

Hey, it’s easy to watch the news, form and opinion, and judge others. It is quite different to observe, reflect, and go be the leader your people need you to be. I don’t know about you, but the more I watch, the more motivated I am to help others be the type leader our people need. I want to do everything I can to help you ultimately be a leader worthy of following!

If you are interested in working through some basic leadership skills with your team or even just focusing on self-development, I put together a concise booklet on leadership skills just perfect for either of those needs. Go to Blurb.com and search for “Leadership Basics for Success”. You will find it practical and easy to identify key takeaways to help you and others grow in leadership.

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