The best leaders I’ve ever worked for were major successes in life long before being asked to be the CEO. They typically did not seek the job but were drafted by others. Their ego, career, or finances did not require them to take a major leadership position. It might even cost them more to take the job.

The best leaders were already content with who they are. They were glad to serve but they would also be happy to not be in charge anymore. They grow leaders and plan for others to take their job. They made sound decisions but they always thought long and hard about the impact of their actions on others. Free of thinking about themselves, they could focus on the mission and team. They could take chances and solve problems. They were free to lead.

The worst leaders are the ones who are dying to be in charge. They crave position and power but eschew responsibility. They must have that title. It’s always about them. The mission and team are not their focus. They’ll fabricate progress.

They never grow leaders because you cannot share what you never had. Others are threats not assets. They don’t worry about the impact of their decisions on others. They live in perpetual denial about their actual performance. They could care less about flying the plane into the mountainside as long as they are still in charge when it hits.

Both the best and worst leaders have taught me valuable lessons.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.