First posted as a riddle, most of us can still recite the brief story of Humpty Dumpty:
Of course, we all now know that Humpty was an egg. But I think the allure of this riddle is the idea of the fall, and it ties directly to the cycle of leadership.
My father was a Baptist minister. In the Baptist Church there is no political body deciding who will lead which church and for how long. Instead, ministers are “called” by pulpit committees that represent the congregation. Once in place, the minister is governed by the congregation through a series of committees.
As a preacher’s family, we always knew that every church would follow a certain pattern:
Here’s a truth about leadership — when a leader falls, the rest of us can feel vindicated. There is no putting them back together again, because we are happier with them off the wall than on it. Don’t believe me; ask Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton.
Nobody likes to look up at others, whether they are preaching or giving the annual report. Once someone steps on a podium, we have an inexplicable, unrelenting need to knock them off of it.
What does this mean for leadership? It means leaders have to –
My dad always left behind a church that was stronger than when he got there, but many refused to acknowledge that fact. They had fallen in love with the windmills they had created and fought. But dad knew the work he had done was important and good.
And sometimes, for a leader, that has to be enough.