“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” — The Dark Knight (2008)
Lately, I’ve been very interested in this idea of whether it’s possible to continue moving upwards in the leadership ranks and still keep certain principles or aspects of personal philosophy intact, or whether at some point, one must sacrifice some of them for the sake success.
I’m grateful that there are some really inspiring examples of humble, personable, and honest servant-leaders in the company for which I work. A few of our best leaders are the very role model leaders one could ever hope to emulate. However, it’s not always the case at every company or in every organization. Some places move in ways that engage in ruthless politics, back-channeling, and have utterly crazy dog-eat-dog cultures.
It’s interesting because it makes one wonder, as they say in fencing, “What’s the point?”. What’s the point in striving for success at the cost of what really matters? Why lead if it’s not to serve? Why do anything if it doesn’t bring value and meaning to something greater than oneself?
I really like Pope Francis’ discussion on The 15 Diseases of Leadership. In his talk, the Pope describes how leadership can go wrong. It hits the mark in these reflections, of late, on the leadership journey and how to be mindful of these “diseases” that are prevalent in our success-driven society.
Understanding these risks helps ensure one doesn’t cross over into the dark side of leadership that destroys acting on principle and makes one, often unwittingly, do things the wrong way purely…for the sake of success.