The Art of Sacrifice

I’ve always felt that the one of the most important characteristics of great leadership was the willingness to sacrifice for the good of those you were leading. I’m not talking about sacrifice in that a leader offers him or herself up for personal demise (although, there are times when that might be best). I’m talking about the kind of sacrifice that I can describe best with a line from an old Kenny Roger’s song: You got to know when to hold em, when to fold em, and when to walk away. It’s interesting to me that in today’s environment (both professionally and politically), I’m seeing almost none of that willingness to sacrifice on display. More often than not, it’s the kind of leadership that’s more willing to sacrifice those they lead for a personal agenda or ideology than for that which would most benefit the whole. Personal or professional satisfaction today has seemed to evolve to the point, where it means achieving your goals in whatever way is necessary. That ‘wanting it now at all costs’ mindset always decreases the commitment necessary to build for the long term. Real sacrifice requires you to accept that getting what you want today may not happen. That sacrifice might be as simple as giving up an expenditure today for a more important investment tomorrow. Or, it could be as challenging as having the courage for a difficult confrontation now because the damage later might be too great to overcome. Real sacrifice is the art of foregoing one thing for another. That ‘other’ might even be more generous, virtuous and useful in the long term. Regardless, the best part of leading by sacrificing is that it might actually be more satisfying than achieving the goal itself.

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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