“Solidarity acknowledges our interconnectedness: we are creatures in relationship, with duties toward each other, and all are called to participate in society.”

– Pope Francis

I like to move fast with most things and, especially in a mission-driven organization, I am typically of the opinion that we can never move fast enough. Zeal, a sense of urgency, go go go - this is always what we need for the Gospel isn’t it? A few years ago, there was a project that, in my view, was taking entirely too long and kept drifting from one month into the next. Being the passionate, ambitious super leader I thought I was, I challenged my direct report who oversaw the project to step it up and get it over the finish line. I declared an end date and directed that I wanted the necessary resources amassed to get it done. I sincerely offered any support I could provide, promised my prayers, and patted myself on the back for being a good CEO – high standards, clear expectations, with support and encouragement. Mission accomplished.

The project was accomplished by the date I had declared, and at a high level of quality. Around the completion date, I just so happened to be visiting the hometown of a colleague who worked on the effort under the direct report I had challenged. I offered to treat him to a meal and catch up. Opening up with a simple “how've you been,” this normally jovial individual was almost in tears about how stressful the prior few weeks had been, the anxiety it had caused, and relief that the project was over. He was grateful for his supervisor (my direct report) but admitted that no one seemed to understand why there was such urgency to the deadline. However, I knew the answer. Because I said so.

I apologized for being the cause of the unnecessary stress and thanked him for his good work. As I drove to my hotel, I wanted to retract that pat on the back I had given myself earlier. I may have been clear about what I wanted, but I was also ignorant as to what it would take and the implications it would have not only for those close to me, but for those who are close to those close to me. As a leader, I may think my requests or requirements are inspired, but are they also informed? Do I consider what ripple effects it might have beyond the person I’ve engaged? As I hold others to account, am I accounting for all I might be exacting?

The Lord may ask everything of us, but He has gone first in setting the ultimate standard for sacrificial leadership. As we continue to invite others into mission, let’s be leaders who not only understand the sacrifices we are asking from those at every level, but who demonstrate that we are willing to go first.

by Daniel Cellucci

June 03, 2024

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