What Can't You Compromise On?
The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on.
– Seth Godin (Tribes)
In most definitions of leadership, an individual’s uncompromising character is a key attribute. In the above quote, Godin
reveals an important clarification: he emphasizes that leaders must understand what they can not
compromise on. After reading this from his Tribes
book, I realized this was an important matter many leaders today do not fully appreciate. Instead, most leaders today determine what they want not
, choose not
or should not
compromise on. These positions are not strong enough for leaders that truly want to serve their organizations. For example:
1. Want Not to Compromise: “Wanting” is a matter of personal preference. Personal preference can be compromised and is therefore the lowest degree of commitment between wanting, choosing and knowing what one should do.
2. Choose Not to Compromise: Choosing is also ultimately a personal decision. While the leader has committed themselves to not compromise, they may delegate decisions, allowing others to compromise on the matter. The result is still weak leadership.
3. Should Not Compromise: When a leader determines they should not compromise, they’re not personally committed to it. As a result, compromise against the first real challenge is likely. This is still, ultimately a decision and not a commitment.
4. Can Not Compromise: When a leader determines they can not compromise on a matter, the result is the strongest service and leadership to the organization. These leaders view their decisions as not a personal position, but a commitment that must be adhered to across the organization. Challenges will not shift the position of the leader or the organization. Vision is clear for the followers and they are able to commit themselves to the same positions when knowing the unwavering commitment of their leaders.
The greatest character, motivation and leadership flows from the servant leader who understands what they can not compromise on. In understanding what they can not compromise on, a leader is best positioned to serve their followers.
Question: Do you know what matters you can not compromise on? What are they?