“I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand.” 1 Samuel 12:2
What does the perfect boss look like?
Take out 20 seconds, and think on this. (If you’re at work, do this with your eyes open so no one gets suspicious and suspects that you’re taking time to think about something other than work; being able to pray, or think, in public without anyone realizing it is a good skill to cultivate.)
Okay, let’s list out five attributes:
The good boss is
- Physically attractive (this is THE Most Important Factor),
- Well known,
- Witty, with an especial gift for one-liners,
- Clever, cunning, self-assured, and crafty.
Do you disagree?
I sure hope so, and I’m guessing that your list may look more along the lines of,
The good boss is
- Competent at what he/she does,
- Confident enough to admit that he is wrong, or that your thoughts on the problem are better than hers (this is actually humility),
- Kind (considerate, courteous, thoughtful, understanding),
- Generous with well-earned praise and tactful with critique,
Because bosses are so intimately woven into the fabric of many people’s lives, we judge them by intelligent standards, factors that make a difference in how those bosses ultimately treat us. To this end, it is of little import if our boss looks like a movie star, but it very much matters whether that boss is honest, or not; or whether that boss is generous, or selfish; or whether that boss is actually competent (and isn’t just outwardly confident about being so) in the position for which he or she is hired.
In short, our boss’s leadership qualities — his “success” as a leader — is not based upon looks, fame, cunning, or the ability to lob a riposte at an opponent or employee, thereby making that opponent look like a fool.
And yet, when it comes to our political, media, social, and religious “leaders,” the attributes in the first list, the one headed by physical appearances, are what we look for — the person feeding us the news needs to be attractive, the best president is the one who speaks well and eloquently, the national pastor is okay to be wealthy because this is a sign that he is blessed by God.
We persist in thinking that good looks, lots of money, and name recognition are signs of success and ability, and those “other things” — the intangible attributes that actually make up a man, or woman — naturally follow because it all goes together.
But do they? Is our good looking, wealthy, well-connected and upwardly mobile boss also kind, thoughtful, competent, generous, and respectful of those under his aegis?
In 1 Samuel 12, the namesake of the book, after leading the ancient nation of Israel for all the days of his life (7:15) — which some estimate to be in Samuel’s 90s — asked the people he had guided and shepherded,
“Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes?
“If I have done any of these, I will make it right.”
How many of our leaders — political, religious, medical, educational, bureaucratic, corporate — would ask a question like that?
“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” the people of Israel replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
How many of our leaders — political, religious, medical, educational, bureaucratic, corporate — would get an answer like that?
In the U.S., the country in which I live, we are gearing up for the next presidential election, and the candidates are straightening their ties, airbrushing their make-up, and practicing their confident smiles.
Do any of them have what it takes — what it really takes — to be a good leader?
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I encourage ordinary people to stop depending upon self-imposed leaders for answers about spirituality, Christianity, and God.
I do not have a “ministry,” a radio talk show, or a mega-church; neither do I solicit funds in exchange for my “spreading the gospel” in your name. I simply ask people to think for themselves.
If what I write resonates with you, please pass me on.