We all want to be ‘top dog’. We fight and scratch and claw to get to the top of the ladder. We want the promotion, the raise, the corner office. We want the titles and the perks. We want the position and the power.
But the responsibility that comes with leadership is something we too often overlook. We neglect the fact that leaders are meant, in the end, to serve. We are meant to be the first person over the wall and the last line of defense. The blame stops here. True leadership is about influence, not power. Empowerment rather than control. Serving rather than being served.
My wife and I recently spent a day visiting dog shelters, looking for a new pet to adopt. One of the little stinkers went berzerk when he saw me, barking like I was the antichrist.
“He probably just knows I’m the alpha,” I said jokingly.
My wife laughed for a good half hour. Not because I was clever but because I thought I was the alpha.
We argued (playfully) for the rest of the day about which of us was the alpha. We made our cases. We both wanted it, defending our side passionately, feeling the tinge of embarrassment and unease that comes at the threat of being perceived as ‘weak’ or ‘unworthy’.
Late last night, after Kylie had gone to bed, I was doing the dishes and thinking about our conversation about Alphas. It reminded me a lot of the way we view leadership.
I was thinking about having the dog, training it, walking it, etc. The dog we liked was a new puppy and the shelter told us she would have to be watched around other dogs until we were sure she’d be ok with them. I thought about what that even means and having to protect our new dog from herself and other dogs.
“Maybe I don’t want to be the alpha,” I whispered toward the facet water.
Leading isn’t about the spoils. In fact, the definition of spoil is ‘to prevent from being satisfactory or successful’. The spoils can ruin otherwise great leaders. Collecting spoils can undermine our ability to lead, to influence, to care for others – the true calling of an ‘alpha’.