Is Leadership Worth Dying For?

Is leadership worth dying for? As a leader, you have probably never had to ask yourself this question. Well, I had to, very early on in my career after a respected colleague died of cancer.

Her name was Zinta and she was a senior leader in an organization where I worked. 

The organization had an uninspiring culture and as a true leader, Zinta wanted to make it better. She set up committees to do just that and over time our committee work would improve things. It was amazing to see the change. I learned that one leader could make a positive difference. However, once Zinta got sick and left to undergo her treatments, things began to revert back.      

While Zinta was away, I visited her at her home and she shared all the things she experienced in trying to change that organization.  She described her regular battles with upper management who resisted her every move. She talked about colleagues who played petty office politics leading to a climate of low trust and support.  

Zinta's most startling words came when she shared her belief that her cancer was a direct result of all the personal stress she had endured over the years in that organization.   

A few weeks after my visit, Zinta sent me a letter that forced me to ask myself some critical questions about my career and leadership. More importantly, it forced me to think about whether I was prepared to pay the price (like Zinta did) to be a leader in that organization. It forced me to think about whether leadership was worth dying for.  

Unfortunately Zinta passed away a few weeks after I received that letter and the organization died along with her. It returned to being that uninspiring place. However, Zinta's letter did change my life. Her words helped me realize that leadership can have a price, and I wasn't prepared to be a leader in that organization. So I left and have spent that last 25 years of my career devoted to working with leaders who want to create compelling and successful organizations.

That's what my blog is about - sharing what I’ve learned about leadership as business leader, a consultant, and through my work with some amazing leaders and clients. 

It’s about sharing what I believe is the kind of leadership organizations will need for the future. 

Finally, it’s about helping you think about your leadership in ways that you have never thought about it before. 

If you want to read more about Zinta’s letter and my ideas on leadership, download by my ebook, The Leadership Contract.