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Passing the true leadership test

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–It seems that the media just can’t get enough of Donald Trump. From magazine covers to his own television show, he has somehow become an icon for leadership. His critical tirades followed by the familiar “you’re fired” have become an accepted example for dealing with subordinates. Recently, he even terminated a long-term employee whom he felt was getting more attention than him. Donald Trump an example of a real leader? The question is can “the Donald” pass the true leadership test?

I once worked for a man whose motto was “protect the boss at all costs.” He genuinely believed (and practiced) that all employees were expendable but the success of the company was solely contingent upon his success. Therefore everything was about making him look good. He encouraged his closest staff to always “take the hit” for any failures or shortcomings in the company so he could always lead from a position of success. In reality, that approach never made him a successful leader. He was only a successful at being self-centered.

Just like Mr. Trump, his approach was the opposite of how it should operate. A real leader “takes the hit” for the people he or she leads. That kind of leader is focused on making a difference in the lives of others. What about you? Can you pass the true leadership test?

The true test for a leader is: Do you really love those you lead? Is their best interest important to you? Jesus said that the authentic measure for greatness was found in serving others. A leader puts the needs of others first. Leadership is all about others. A successful leader is focused on making a meaningful impact in someone else’s life and helping them succeed.

When we have a meeting of our board of trustees at the University of Mobile, our division (campus affairs) reports to a board committee. I love to review the highlights of our year with that committee and, in the presence of my staff, point out their individual leadership in making those things happen. Oh, I might have done many of those projects with them, but I want them to receive the credit. It motivates them and I really do value their work in a big way. Some might say, “If you give away the credit as a boss, you might make yourself expendable.” An interesting sidelight of all of this is when my boss talks about me, he says, “Mike has the ability to put together an incredible team!”

Putting others first is always a win-win principle for a leader.

A successful leader genuinely cares about those for whom he or she is responsible. That leader follows the instruction of Paul to consider others as more important and passionately applies it to every area and relationship. It is a selfless, sacrificial focus that centers on the success of others. Ultimately, it is treating people the way Jesus would.

Mr. Trump, can you pass the true leadership test? I don’t think so.

“You’re fired!”
Mike Blaylock is the vice president for campus affairs at the University of Mobile in Mobile, Ala. He also is a speaker and entertainer for colleges, churches, businesses and civic organizations throughout the country. The former chaplain for the Kansas City Royals, Blaylock is the author of “An Unexpected Journey: Traveling Through a Valley Called Cancer” and “The Right Way to Win.” His latest book, “Life-Changing Leadership: Making a Difference in the Lives of Others,” is available at www.lifechangingleadership.com, where his other books can be purchased.

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  • Mike Blaylock