Leadership, Partners

Compassionate Evisceration

In a conversation this morning with a leader in a national organization that is seeking to more effectively connect with people under the age of thirty I was asked if I had any suggestions on how to build those relationships. My response was that of greater importance than reaching out to a younger generation is making a priority of taking a strong position to develop the young leaders who are already part of their charity. Specifically, I said that they need to be very deliberate in ensuring that their emerging leaders have people in their lives with the credibility and courage to aggressively challenge and hold them accountable. The phrase that spontaneously came to my mind was: Compassionate Evisceration. I’ve seen far too many leaders far more talented than myself who earned influence very early but had terribly little sensitivity to their own weaknesses and failures, often leaving a trail of hurt people in their wake. Limitless passion and powerful commitment to their cause are eventually undermined by a lack of self-awareness and mature character. The team at Arrow Leadership take emerging leaders through a sometimes painful process of discovery in which blind spots are revealed and damaging tendencies are exposed. I’ve heard it described in terms similar to having one’s internal organs removed and laid out on a table for all to see. Arrow is great, they have a remarkable track record of impact, but not every leader is able to participate. We need more people who will be willing to risk entering the lives of young leaders with a willingness to walk alongside them through tough places, confront them directly when needed, and maintain their trust over time. There are precious few who are doing that, and few of these high potential young leaders who are aware of their need for it. We need to love the guts of our next generation.