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Welcome to JoinDrPam.  After months of not blogging, I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last month and was profoundly inspired, both personally and professionally.  To learn more about this annual event please visit the Willow Creek website.  The next few blog posts will address topics on which I have been reflecting for the past few weeks.  The first installment of this set of musings asks the question, “What kind of leader do you want to be?

Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church characterizes two kinds of leaders.  Legacy Leaders act as owners and have a grand vision for what they want to achieve.  Legacy Leaders are working for the greater good, and are concerned with the gifts they will leave behind.

Alternatively, Bill spoke of Hirelings, defined as people who work purely for personal material reward — ladder-climbers.  Hirelings, unlike Legacy Leaders, have no concern for leaving great gifts. but rather, only concern for receiving great gifts.

I suggest that there is a third kind of leader: the Lame Duck Leader.  Lame Duck most commonly refers to a political leader approaching the end of his or her term, but an alternate definition is someone who is in a game, cannot win, yet remains in the game.  Unlike a politician with term limits, a Lame Duck Leader is someone without term limits, who is not retiring or a short-termer waiting for his or her successor to take the reins.  This leader is simply coming to work everyday clocking in and out. This leader is neither building a legacy, nor lining his or her pockets, but is simply hanging on and hanging around.

As I reflect on these three kinds of leaders, I find it useful to apply the intention/impact framework to evaluate them.  The Legacy Leader has good intentions—to leave a positive legacy —and if he or she is a great leader, will also have a positive impact.  The Hireling Leader does not have good intentions if you consider it bad to be purely self-serving.  However, I would argue that the impact can go either way.  In the process of accumulating his or her own rewards and climbing the ladder, a Hireling may create some residual opportunity, reward or wins for others along the way.  So while the Hireling may have no intention of helping others, there may be positive impact nonetheless.  The Lame Duck Leader has neither positive intentions nor positive impact.  He or she is choosing to stay in the game with no intention of fighting, let alone winning.  Furthermore, the impact of someone hanging around with no intention of winning, is at best neutral, and at worst, a negative pull on others—particularly when it is the leader!

What kind of leader are you?  Are you building a legacy, which arguably is creating the greatest value for your organization for the gifts you leave behind will outlive your personal presence.  Or are you focused on your own personal rewards, with the possibility that your good fortune may positively impact others? Or have you settled in to playing a game that you have given up on winning?

What kind of leader do you want to be?