Playing the Lone Ranger   Leave a comment

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Sometimes in leadership positions, and in life in general, we can feel like we are lone rangers.  We are faced with so many different situations that seem to demand responses and we determine that we, as individuals, have to come up with those responses.  Maybe I am unique in this area but I know that I find myself falling into this false reality at various times.  As a leader, I know that ultimately I am accountable for the decisions that are made, but I have also learned that those decisions do not need to be determined solely by myself.

I believe that when I leader realizes that he or she often places themself in the role of the lone ranger, this leader becomes an even better leader.  I do not think that anyone has ever listed on a leader’s job description that the individual in the position must be sole determinate of all actions the organization takes.  Yet, how often do we find ourselves assuming the role?  Some times it is out of a time constraint.  Some times it is because the decision is not one that requires a lot of deliberation or has a profound impact on the organization and the organization’s work.  But far too often, the role is assumed because the leader fails to remember the importance of engaging others in the dialogue.

There are many benefits to not being a lone ranger.  The first is that one person only has one perspective.  Engaging others in discussion about whatever situation has arisen allows the leader to hear different perspectives.  Listening to those varied perspectives allows a leader to gain insight, to be aware of ideas, concepts and situations that the leader may not have thought of, and to come to a more inclusive decision.

Another benefit is what is communicated to other people when they are invited into the conversation.  This action tells people that they are valued and respected.  It allows them to be further engaged in the organization and have a sense of ownership.  This also communicates to them that the leader realizes that he or she has limits and have need of others.

Still another benefit to the leader is the reality that carrying a burden is always easier with more hands.  A leader has many different burdens placed upon the individual, both by the organization and by his or her self.  If the leader turns to others to help bear those burdens, there is at least some relief and the burdens are not quite so overpowering.  It can be a huge benefit to have others support you as you deal with the aspects and decisions of the organization.  Since I am a Christian, I know that not only do I have the support of other humans in bearing the burdens but I have the support of the Lord.  For me, both of these sources of assistance in carrying burdens is vital.

So I have determined that playing a lone ranger is never a healthy or beneficial way to lead.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto to assist him.  While there are times that I need to be reminded of this, I am always very relieved when I am smart enough to get off my horse and to sit around the campfire with others so I can lead more effectively.  Of course, I always invite the Lord to sit at the campfire with us.

I thank those individuals who are always willing to sit with me around the campfire!


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