A client of mine was recently wronged by someone in his system and he wrote to tell me he deserves fair. I get this kinda note nearly every day. Hard to argue. I mean, don’t we all deserve to be treated fairly? Here’s my response. My response isn’t nice or easy to swallow, but it’s kind.
This fight for fair is a hard thing. No easy answers.Regarding fair, here’s a little food for thought. What is fair? Fair for you or fair for us? You know life isn’t fair and you know when you look within, you and I are over tuned to what is fair for me. I believe we all have a justice thread that (figuratively) runs right down the middle of us, kinda like our literal transverse abdominus muscle which holds the core together. When our sense of right or wrong is tweaked, especially to ourselves, our justice thread pulls to the left or right, throwing our stability off kilter. We feel wronged and sideways about the whole affair. The natural reaction is primal.
This aim at fairness is as old as humanity and as much as we’ve evolved we still struggle to achieve justice in every system we congregate. Leaders have it even harder. They too get wronged. The good, virtuous ones get wronged that much the more. Study history, you’ll see. The leader has to understand this is the price of leadership. It isn’t fair we hold leaders to a higher bar than we hold ourselves, but we do. It isn’t fair we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt when “we are over served,” but assassinate the character of our leader when he has one too many. And, it isn’t fair that leaders gotta think about what’s best for the team even when team members are out to sabotage them. Leaders, the few worth following, understand and accept this truth. Lead anything well and you are gonna pay for it.
Leaders lead, anyway.
Leaders, you see, own their baggage and carry a bit of yours and mine too. Leaders fight for what’s right even when they’ve been personally wronged. Leaders sometimes turn the other cheek and sometimes take a stand. Wisdom is knowing when to do which. This is why it pays to have good role models with virtuous principles to follow. My favorite is Jesus. His big three leadership principles are easy to understand and beyond hard to follow.
Model the way. Jesus taught by simply saying “follow me.” He led perfectly from the front even when his team fell asleep, couldn’t quite keep up, and actively betrayed Him.
Embrace pain and suffering. Jesus ran into the acute stuff. He didn’t take the easy way out and understood the price required. He carried the cross, literally and figuratively. Thank you, Jesus.
Embody truth in LOVE. Jesus loved us enough to die on that old rugged cross knowing full well He had done nothing wrong. Talk about tweaking a justice thread. Jesus showed us the power of His Grace. We, the world, are still trying to figure out what makes no sense.
Model the way. Embrace pain and suffering. Embody truth in LOVE.
Three really hard leadership principles that none of us can possibly live out. Three principles, however, worth reaching toward, and slowly, painfully, and joyfully, making progress toward. Three principles, when aimed at a worthy opus (labor of love), that energize the leader to dream and do. Three principles that lead us beyond the fight for justice, the need for revenge, and this crazy desire to fight for fair. Three principles that point a bit higher. Three principles aimed at grace.