Some leaders think they are tough, however…
I love the old legend from India that tells about a mouse who was terrified of cats until a magician agreed to transform him into a cat. That resolved his fear…until he met a dog, so the magician changed him into a dog. The mouse-turned-cat-turned-dog was content until he met a tiger – so, once again, the magician changed him into what he feared. But when the tiger came complaining that he had met a hunter, the magician refused to help. “I will make you into a mouse again, for though you have the body of a tiger, you still have the heart of a mouse.”
How many of us would admit that we are in the skin of a tiger, but our heart is that of a mouse? We talk tough, but we are afraid to follow through with action. We believe it is important at times to be direct and honest with those we lead, but we avoid conflict. Or how about the other extreme – you lead by shouting, yelling and throwing tantrums and lack the courage to admit you are wrong. Or lack the courage to put aside your pride and exhibit patience and kindness.
I am sure you know a leader or two like the above, maybe yourself. All through the life of such leaders one skin is traded for another. With every new skin comes new responsibilities or positions that make this leader feel he or she is a cat, dog or tiger, but fundamentally inside they might remain a mouse, lacking important courage.
The new position or title might impress people initially, and a leader might feel like he or she has power. However, great leaders don’t seek power for the hope that it will provide more recognition, honor and glory, or a skin for the hope it will provide more courage, but they seek it to positively affect the lives of others. Great leaders have the skin of the tiger in terms of position, but they also have the heart as well. They do things because it is the right thing to do regardless of how difficult it might be. They act with courage because they care.
A leader can change his or her own skin as often as he or she would like, but a leader’s integrity, character and heart will have to be intact with the skin in order to be effective.
Do you have any stories you could share of leaders with the skin of a tiger and the heart of a mouse? We would love to hear them. Please comment below.
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