A Widely Misunderstood Aspect of Leadership

Leadership is not about control, argues Mike Myatt in Forbes recently. It is about surrender.

A leader simply operates at their best when they understand their ability to influence is much more fruitful than their ability to control. Here’s the thing – the purpose of leadership is not to shine the spotlight on yourself, but to unlock the potential of others so they can in turn shine the spotlight on countless more. Control is about power – not leadership. Surrender allows a leader to get out of their own way and focus on adding value to those whom they serve.

Surrender allows the savvy leader to serve where control demands the ego-centric leader be served. Surrender allows leadership to scale and a culture of leadership to be established. Surrender prefers loose collaborative networks over rigid hierarchical structures allowing information to be more readily shared and distributed. Leaders who understand surrender think community, ecosystem, and culture – not org chart. Surrender is what not only allows the dots to be connected, but it’s what allows to dots to be multiplied.

Maybe surrender really isn’t the best word — we don’t want to give in to the status quo where we see inequity. But the insight here is that control only goes so far. Many education leaders deploy a hierarchical control model with good intentions, and may see some short-term results. But that approach isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t democratic or empowering – whatever the intentions, it reproduces the same kinds of dynamics that create inequity.  So let’s resolve to focus on the art of influence and surrender in the new year!

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