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Chris LoCurto

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December 14, 2011

Power In Leadership

December 14, 2011 | By | 21 Comments">21 Comments

In EntreLeadership, I teach that as a leader, you must have power but seldom use it. Now for most of us, it’s not hard to imagine a powerful leader. But it takes some time for us to wrap our heads around the concept of a leader who doesn’t use that power often. I mean, what’s the point of being a leader if you aren’t using your power…right?

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Well, I’m not saying that you don’t ever use that power, I’m saying you seldom use it. If you’re using every day to flex your leadership muscles, then you’ve not understood what leadership is all about. My belief is that your job as a leader is to make your team successful. As you make them successful, you’ll be successful.

And when you just boss your team around, you miss out on one of the most important benefits of having a team, their ownership. Yep, when you treat a team with dignity, and you lift them up instead of trying to get them to put you on a pedestal, they take ownership of the cause.

Andy Stanley talked about using power at Catalyst a few years ago. He asked the crowd, “What you do when you realize that you’re the most powerful person in the room?” He let that sit in our minds for a few seconds, and then he said, “What did Jesus do?

He got on His knees, took a towel an wrapped it around His waist, and then He washed the dirt from a bunch of guys dirty, nasty feet.” He chose to use His power by doing something disgusting…serving. And not just serving, but by doing a job that robs you of all pride and ego!

For several years, I played Simon Peter in our Maundy Thursday drama at church. At the beginning, we all walk in to Jesus (played by the fabulous Michael Hall) who’s waiting to wash our feet. The first time I did the play, I went into it thinking it’s just acting. I never expected to have an emotional reaction myself. Then I sat down for Michael to wash my feet, and I realized that a really close friend of mine was actually going to wash my feet.

And since he just happened to be dressed up like Jesus, it had a compounded effect on me. There was no possible way to hold back the tears. For a brief moment I imagined the Great I Am washing my feet and I lost it. How could He humble himself to the lowest level for me? Mmmm.

So my question to you is, “Where’s your towel?” What are you doing to serve your team in a way that strips you of your pride as a leader? Are you going to show your team that you are there for them? Or are you going to stay sitting high and mighty upon your throne? I can promise you this, those who will humble themselves before their teams will gain more than just ownership. They’ll gain loyalty! Give it a try and see if I’m wrong.

Share this with your circles. All the cool kids are doing it.

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  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Love this post, Chris. Yes, serving our teams is crucial. And rare these days. Last year for Christmas, I invited the team to a central location and cooked for them for 2 days. This year, THEY served the returning troops from Afghanistan. They put THEIR towel on to serve those who had served them.

    Interesting that you had that reaction when you were the play. During a play at our church, I played the part of the woman caught in adultery and when the young man who was playing the part of Jesus said “go and sin no more”….it was so powerful and brought out such emotion in me.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It’s crazy how real it becomes, even though it’s acting.

  • http://www.medicalaccountsolutions.com Misty Gilbert

    Great reminder…we all need to be focused on serving!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    One of the best ways is to get in the mix with your team. There are times where I can’t do everything with my team but on all the big days and events I am there with them. We had a production at our church recently and an animal left something “special” in the hallway. When I realized it I immediately started cleaning it up. One of my team members saw me doing it and told me that I didn’t have to do it because they would do it for me. They were shocked that I would stoop to do something like that. I simply laughed and said, “It’s my job!” Leading by example is the best way!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      And that went really far with that team member! Great job Eric!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    I believe my dad was a good example of a leader with power who seldom used it. I saw it in meetings, etc. when I knew he knew exactly what needed to happen, but would sit back and let people ask questions and discuss, and then ask his opinion. Allowing others to feel like they can think and hold their own opinions around a leader, helps them to have respect for that leader when they finally do share their opinion. I think that was kind of a circular way to explain it…… :)

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow!! I would have loved to see that. That is a great leader! ________________________________

  • Paul Post

    Very powerful; thanks for the very thought provoking words!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      My pleasure Paul!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Chris! You are talking about servant leadership. This is a rare commodity these days. There is plenty of “I-me-myself” attitude found in leadership space these days. It’s all about power, politics, ego clash at the top level. People who get to work under servant leaders are really fortune people in this world. I feel that the book “Servant Leadership” by ‘Robert Greenleaf’ is an excellent resource on this subject. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that book.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    It reminds me of when you have employee parties and the supervisors are the ones serving everyone else food. It’s a nice sentiment. Yet sometimes it frankly feels like a goofy gimmick. Chris, what do you think are some ways entreleaders could serve their employees authentically?

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      In my mind, the best way to serve a team member is start by finding out what they genuinely need. Then help them to get it. If someone needs to sell better, do whatever it takes to make them a better salesperson. If someone needs time off due to personal stress overload, see that they get it. If they have been working like crazy and need Starbucks, make it happen. The bigger part of serving is paying attention to your team members so that you know WHAT they need. That’s when you build loyalty.

      • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

        Wow, that’s really insightful, Chris. That’s a blog post right there!

        I guess it makes sense that a true servant leader is not just wanting showy displays of false humility and service but real, honest service.

        • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Absolutely.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        That a great piece of advice. Thanks Chris!

  • Anonymous

    And if “you just boss your team around”, you will miss out on their ideas and their friendship!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      spot on!

  • http://about.me/jonedlin Jon Edlin

    Thinking about what Jesus did when he was the most powerful person in the room is powerful! I hope I can think of that every time I am in that situation. What a great example of a leader.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It doesn’t get better!!

  • http://twitter.com/joelfortner03 Joel Fortner

    Like required reading for new team members, perhaps all leaders in organizations should be given a special towel as a constant reminder of what they’re job is. Of course stop short of carrying it around or the Lucies of the place will make fun of you.

    • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

      I would never make fun of anybody carrying a special towel to signify their job position:). Love this post.