Martin Luther King Jr said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I agree.
Over the years as I have stepped up to take different Positions of Leadership, either on Voluntary basis or in elected position, work related, in school et.al, one thing i have learned for sure is that in all cases I courted Controversy – be it in a positive or negative way.
Controversy is good for a leader. Why? First, because it shows that he or she stands for or has stood for something
. Secondly, the more influence – Leadership is about INFLUENCE you have the more exposure and criticism.
If you are familiar with the biblical stories, one of the greatest leaders in my view, Jesus, the people who were most against Him were the religious folks. A story is told of Him healing someone on the Sabbath, he did the right thing but on the wrong day (sic). Some people no matter what you do will never be for you – Accept that fact. If you are going to reach your highest potential as a leader, be comfortable in being controversial. See, this guy Jesus, over 2000 years later, people still argue over Him – So cool!
Critics are a distraction in most cases. As you court controversy, be cautious of dis-tractors. Always remember that as a leader your Vision and Mission is valuable, keep the focus. Your real fight is to stay focused, ask yourself – If I prove my point or win this argument, will I have furthered my vision or just fed my ego? Keep on the high road, do not come down to the critics. Anytime you start answering critics, you have to lower yourself.
The people you lead are always watching you, especially in moments of controversy – how you deal with controversy even among your team members is a key element in your leadership legacy. It will always be easy to say and do the right things when the going is safe and comfortable, it is much harder when you may suffer and even lose your life – Leadership is a matter of “life and death”.
A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. – John Maxwell