Leaders Have a High View of People
Jim Collins rightly notes in Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company:
Like such a teacher [there is much overlap between leading and teaching], a leader idealizes people and has resolute conviction that people can rise to this ideal. A leader grabs the spirit in people, pulling it forward and waking it up. A leader changes people’s perceptions of themselves, getting them to see themselves in the idealized way that he sees them.
This idealized view of people that the leader has is not groundless, but is based in truth. People really are of immense worth and capable of incredible things because they are created in the image of God. A leader’s high view of people is fully justified and based in truth.
Related to this: If you don’t have a high view of people, you shouldn’t lead. If leadership involves lifting people up to do and become more than they realized they could, then you can’t do this if you look down on people or think that most people are not capable of much.
This, in turn, reminds me of Marcus Buckingham’s excellent point that one of the essential talents for leadership is optimism. This is because leaders rally people to a better future. If you don’t believe that the future can be made better, then nobody will want to (or should want to–that would be strange) go to the future that you have in mind. Like a high view of people, this optimism is not groundless, either. Rather, it is ultimately based in providence.
What these two characteristics have in common is that they show us that leaders, while acknowledging the size and difficulty of the environment and challenge before them, are fundamentally positive. They believe that the future can be made better and that people are able to rise to the task to create this better future. Further, even though many leaders may not be thinking in these terms, there is good grounding for these beliefs in the doctrine of man and the doctrine of providence.