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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From the Top

In any organization, it's been said that the climate comes from the top. The people in the organization become become like their leaders. So there are some dynamics at play here that we all should take note of - whether we are leaders or not.

What kind of climate are you setting for your leaders? Think about the people who are leaders in your life. Parents, heads of households, bosses at work, church leaders, government leaders and others. Do you have expectations of them? Do you trust them? Consider how much what they do or say tends to set the tone for your mood.

I've noticed something about human relationships, and I think it especially applies to leadership. When other people disappoint, humiliate, hurt or threaten us - we feel empty. It's as though a vital part of ourselves has been stolen. When others break the trust we have placed in them - they also break our spirit. And they can do this even when they aren't aware that we've placed our trust in them.

Many years ago, we attended a church that was dynamic and growing. The pastor was charismatic, inspiring and he was a leader that everyone wanted to follow. The worship pastor was a gifted musician. He wore tight jeans and cowboy boots as he pounded the keys on the grand piano - it was a spectacular experience - every Sunday morning!

And then it happened. He committed suicide. Seems he'd been having an affair with a 15 year old girl and the police were closing in on him. He left a wife and family, a solid career and a thriving ministry. We were devastated.

About a year later, the senior pastor got caught having an affair. He was forced to resign in shame - his wife and family crying beside him. Were were devastated. More than that, we were lost. Our church seemed never to be the same again.

What had happened? Leadership had set the tone. We trusted the tone; we followed the leaders. And they disappointed. Our spirits were broken. Trust had been broken.

Bosses in the workplace can do this too. You follow them, you trust them. But they disappoint. It can be something as simple as them not delivering on a compensation promise, or even leaving to take another job elsewhere. Whatever you expected someone to do - he or she didn't do. Or whatever you hoped they would not do - they did.

It's been said that expectations we have of others are really just pre-meditated resentments or pre-planned disappointments. So the analogy is that we shouldn't have expectations of others. I don't really think that's possible though. After all, we're human. Expectations of leaders can't be helped.

So in any kind of organization, the climate comes from the top. What kind of climate are you setting with the people who follow you? Do you even know who those people are?

And if you're in the organization, doing some following of your own - what kind of trust are you placing (or misplacing)? How will you handle it if and when the sky falls? Will your spirit be broken ... or will it be strong enough to sustain the storm?

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