As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 19th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a group of leaders. These leaders were ordinary men and women. However, they had the enormous responsibility of leading their teams to do extraordinary things. The more we explored the subject of leadership, the clearer it was that leadership as a service to humanity requires leaders who are ready and willing to sacrifice something. Great leaders are aware of the need to make sacrifices. Most leaders can identify instances when they have made major sacrifices for the success of those they lead. It is indisputable that sacrifice and great leadership go hand-in-hand. The sacrifices we make as leaders are comparable to those made by parents. Parents want the best for their children; leaders should want the best for those they lead. Great leaders, therefore, make sacrifices for the sake of others; they consider leadership as a service to humanity.
By simply looking through our history books, we can identify leaders who made major sacrifices for our country’s independence. Some went to jail, others ware maimed and some lost their lives. Groups, communities and countries have succeeded because of sacrifices that leaders have made. In the world of business, founders have made major sacrifices to build their businesses from scratch and to keep them alive. I recently met a business owner who narrated how he sold his house to pay employees and keep his start-up running. He had to make the radical decision to rescue his business from a severe cash flow crisis. It was a major sacrifice for him; he recognized his leadership responsibility and was ready to give up his comfort for the good of the business and those working in it. Today, his business is thriving. Many leaders at different levels and in diverse occupations have made big and small sacrifices to achieve more.
Taking charge and shepherding people towards any vision does not just happen, it requires continuous effort. To succeed in their leadership responsibility, leaders must make sacrifices. Success comes from the sacrifices that leaders make every day. The best leaders pay a higher price than those they lead. Such leaders give up their time, money, self-interest, energy, praise, authority, ambition and even power for the good of others. They consider these to be of lesser value and the survival of their group, businesses, country to be of much greater value. Great leaders sacrifice more than others do; they sacrifice by doing more for those they lead without expecting anything in return. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We have many not so great leaders not willing to sacrifice.
Sacrifice should be at the center of great leadership. True leadership in all spheres of life must go beyond position and power to service and sacrifice. This is only possible if we lead from the heart. It is only through making sacrifices that we can build strong relationships with others, achieve our set goals, and move closer to our vision either as groups, businesses and even as a country. This is only possible if leaders seek to be more selfless and less selfish. What sacrifices are we willing to make as leaders? I believe it is only by making sacrifices that leaders can live and leave a worthwhile legacy.
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy