Leadership and personality styles are hot topics these days. Do a web search for either, and you’ll get a zillion sales pages and a dozen free invitations to discover your own style.
Groups and teams are a big deal, too. And they should be. Get a team motivated in the right direction and you can accomplish more than you’d imagined.
But groups and teams can never discover nor cast vision like an inspired individual can.
By nature, groups compromise until they reach a consensus. The group may like two ideas John has, three that Sherry presents, and one that Henry offers. String them all together and you’ve got a nice, warm package. But not a white-hot blaze that ignites anybody’s soul.
God gave Noah the vision for the ark, and Abraham the vision of a city. They both did pretty well. God gave Moses the vision to lead Israel into the Promise Land, and he got the idea to put together a committee of twelve to help him get there. Forty years later, two of the twelve finally made it in. The other ten, and most of their peers, died in the wilderness. The group smothered the vision.
Groups are good for management and maintenance, but they are vision killers. They are great for accountability, problem solving, brainstorming, and creating policies and systems, but to develop a vision that makes you want to risk everything you’ve got to make it happen? Not gonna happen.
Having a vision can be pretty dangerous. Ask Joseph. The fear of being blasted by the group keeps most people bound to just living and dying without ever chasing their dreams.
Everything begs for leadership. Even a committee. If some person does not inspire a group with his/her vision, a leader will rise to the surface from within. These percolating leaders will fit one of three categories — and neither one is desirable.
The most likely leader to rise within a group is the one with the most dominate personality. They aren’t necessarily the best leader — just the most forceful. Without a strong dissenting voice, the others will often acquiesce to their opinions.
Some groups fall prey to a selfish manipulator who finds subtle ways to gain control. Outside of group meetings, they’ll snuggle up to individuals and ingratiate themselves into the lives of members who will then feel obligated to side with them when the group makes decisions. Kinda slimy.
Then there’s the unoffensive compromiser. This person doesn’t want to offend anybody, so they scurry around trying to find solutions for the group that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. As a result, the group isn’t guided by principles or values, but is committed to making sure nobody is made uncomfortable .
Either one is a pitiful way to try to lead. But one of those will usually wind up taking charge if the group is left to find its own vision.
Nothing can replace an individual with a clear and compelling vision. Nothing. But to have one and share it requires courage, conviction, and commitment. Remember Joseph? He had no idea that the dreams he had of being lifted high would take him so low. Dreams and visions will die unless someone clings to it so fiercely that he is willing to be betrayed by his brothers, work like a slave, endure false accusations, and be forgotten by his friends before letting them go.
So, in all your training and learning and growing, understand the value of teams and groups united behind a common cause. But never forget that, unless somebody endures the pain of giving life and light to a compelling vision, the group will eventually morph into being committed to nothing more than perpetuating its own existence.
Somebody has got to have a vision!