Last week I took the liberty of drafting a “dream letter” to the 45th President of the United States as he started his new job.
I have more that I want to tell the President, but I didn’t want to overwhelm him in his first week on the job. I’m sure he has a few things to attend to and what I wanted to say is really important so I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle of the inauguration.
I am hopeful that he has digested and embraced the importance of being a leader of moral authority and high character, and he is off to a great start. Because servant leadership is a journey and not a destination, I still have more I would like to share with him.
Letter to the President – Part 2
Dear Mr. President,
I trust you are off to a great start as President of the United States.
I hope you have had an opportunity to read through the book of Nehemiah in the Bible to study his leadership style, as well as a couple of the gospels to learn more about Jesus’ leadership as well. I know if you work to emulate these two, you will have a stellar presidency.
But there is more I would like to share. Today I would like to talk about “hubris”. Hubris is defined as excessive pride or a foolish amount of self-confidence.
Unfortunately a gravitational pull of leadership, or a rise in power can lead to this character downfall. Anyone in your position will need to intentionally battle this tendency.
Signs of Hubris
- You constantly believe in public praise
- You allow past successes to inflate your confidence
- You can’t remember the last time you spoke to a constituent (customer)
- You use people for power, not power for the people
- Your team always agrees with you
- You ignore or alienate your advisors
- You are more persuasive than honest
- You find yourself especially irritated when your ideas are challenged or contradicted
- You enforce rules that you don’t always personally follow
- When something goes wrong your first default is to ask, “Who is responsible?”
For some additional learning on the dangers of hubris, I would recommend reading the story of Pharaoh in the Bible in Exodus Chapter 5 – Chapter 14. He had hubris, and it did not work out too well for the country he was serving. It is great that we have leaders in the past that we can learn from, either how we should lead (Nehemiah and Jesus) or how we should NOT lead (Pharaoh).
Humility is the only answer for hubris!
Leadership is a responsibility, not an entitlement. God has blessed you with a great deal of responsibility. I recommend that you look at this gift of leadership for our country to be used for God’s glory, and not for personal glory. Maintaining your focus on God will enable you to stay humble and away from hubris.
Your humility will emulate out of your personal foundation, which consists of your purpose, your values, and your personal character. Spend time making investments in these areas and you will be an amazing leader for our country. We will all then be passionately following you. That is what the American people want!
I have one more letter that I would like to write you, but this is enough for this week. I don’t want you to be overloaded on your journey of servant leadership. I pray for you, your family, and your leadership daily.
In great respect,
I am uncomfortable even writing to the President about hubris as it feels like I am suffering from hubris for even thinking I have advice for him. But I know I need advisors to keep me grounded in this area, so I assume the President will appreciate it as well.
What are your mechanisms to avoid allowing hubris to set in?
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5