I had been involved in leadership roles for as long as I could remember – starting in grade school, into college, then on into life, business, community and social groups.
After a particularly challenging leadership training event at the United States Naval Academy, one in which I failed miserably at the assigned task, I was particularly down about my performance and my future in the Navy officer corps.
I was to lead a group of other Midshipmen in a fire drill – putting out a (very real) fire ona a mock ship. I froze! I completely forgot what to do, and how to get those on my team to do their jobs – even though we had just been briefed on the procedure literally less than 10 minutes prior. If it had been an actual fire, we all would have died.
One of my mentors noticed my near depression at this failure. He give me some wisdom that has stuck with me all this time:
You know, there are really only two types of leaders…
The leader you would follow into the fire, and…
The leader you would push into the fire…
Which one you’ll be is your choice!
Pretty poignant advice after my experience, wouldn’t you say?
Now, we all know that leaders take many shapes and sizes. Business owners and execs, political leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, etc.
But ultimately, you can put every one of them into one of these two groups. If you’re a leader in your business, life, family, organization, church, whatever, you owe it to yourself to deeply consider which type of leader you’ll be:
The one out front, respected by those you serve, leading the way into whatever comes up?
Or the leader who “leads” from behind, who garners little respect from (and shows little respect to) those you lead, who would rather lead by threat or force than by example?
Even if you only lead yourself, you are still a leader. In fact, that’s where leadership starts – by leading yourself. Respect your self, respect your accomplishments, respect your inner GPS, respect your dreams and goals. Be the leader you would follow through the fire!