Leaders are surrounded by individuals trying to influence their decisions. Some are unselfishly attempting to persuade the leader because they believe their resolution to be beneficial to the team. Others manipulate the situation in their favor. They promote a personal agenda that benefits themselves with no regard for the success of anyone else.
Amid both types of followers, the leader must maintain a set of core beliefs. Without an established stance, the leader lacks the foundation to make consistent, purpose-driven decisions. Imagine if Superman had started saving people without affirming his role as a superhero. He is flying around doing what he thinks is right but has not determined his level of accountability or decided what he is trying to achieve. Then, he confronts Lex Luthor, a charismatic millionaire with dreams of world domination.
Luthor displays pose and confidence. His actions are intentional as is the manner in which he has chosen to live his life. Luthor’s objectives are not altruistic, but when pressed, his autocratic methods are convincingly beneficial to everyone.
No, I don’t want to be a god. I just want to bring fire to the people…and, I want my cut.
If Superman is unsure about what he is trying to accomplish and how far he’s willing to go to accomplish it, he is more likely to be susceptible to the whims of Luthor and every other evil genius he encounters. This is not an attack on Superman’s intellect; Luthor would simply provide meaning where it does not currently exist. Anyone who does not purposefully choose their path is more vulnerable to having that path chosen for them…and it is not always chosen by someone looking out for their best interests.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to both know where we stand and provide this meaning for those seeking it. For ourselves, we must be discerning of those trying to guide us. It’s important to listen and remain open to new ideas, but we need to filter these suggestions through thorough critical analysis and the wherewithal that our collaborator may have a self-interest in the outcome.
When helping others find this purpose, we must put our egocentricities aside and provide the advice and direction that best supports them. This is not always easy, but you aren’t Lex Luthor. You aren’t trying to manipulate anyone to serve you and your malevolent schemes. You are developing a person who will, hopefully, become a trusted and capable ally, not a mindless, subservient henchman.
It’s not too late to plot your vision and define your moral stance. Once you do, you can avoid the persuasive charm of the sycophants and delinquents or are attracted to power. A little forethought will help you think faster than a speeding bullet and outwit connivers at a single bound.