A Leader’s Fear of Taking a Stand

So often, individuals shy away from making a major decision or taking on a major initiative because of the potential risk involved. Making a decision to pursue a campaign for public office carries a lot of uncertainty. Studies in motivation indicate that autonomy and competence are key contributions to personal fulfillment. These two attributes alone would benefit an individual when running for office. However, there is a third element to this motivational tri-pod that may be the leg that is keeping capable individuals from becoming a government leader…relationships. People are motivated when building and continually enriching a strong, caring, and supportive organizational community and culture. In the public sector, some may just be biding their time for when one leader leaves and another comes in and implements new strategies and a new way of leading their employees. The leader never obtains the “buy-in” from their employees.

In the book, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, authors Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller use the word SERVE as an acronym for the five fundamental ways in which every great leader serves. SERVE stands for:

S – See the Future

E – Engage and Develop People

R – Reinvent Continuously

V – Value Results and Relationships

E – Embody the Values

Great leaders – those who lead at a higher level – value both results and relationships. Most leaders believe that they must choose between one or the other. A leader must reflect on whether they are getting the performance and results from those they lead and if their direct reports follow and believe in their mission and strategy for the agency. If a leader can honestly reply yes to both of these questions, they are on the right path for building and maintaining successful relationships.

There are many reasons why fear could creep into a leader’s mind and prevent them from moving forward in accomplishing their mission. Here are a few hurdles that could prevent a manager from moving forward when considering running for public office.

  • They reflect on how others who are running are being treated.
  • They understand not all their decisions will be able to reflect core beliefs.
  • They are concerned they will be tarred when making counter decisions.
  • They realize they will be shunned when declaring unpopular positions.
  • They look at the risks and decide not to take a stand.

I realize that taking a stand could come with negative results. The risk may end up damaging or it may be the best decision you make. We all know that there is a risk in taking a risk, but you’re also taking a huge risk in not taking a risk at all.

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