In all my years of leadership/followership and in my role as a leadership consultant, I have come to realize that Great Leaders and Great Leadership Cultures are willing to Challenge “The King.” I’m not talking about challenging KIng James to a game of 1 on 1 after you eat a triple steak stack from Taco Bell. I’m referring to “The King” as the Big Boss, The CEO, The Department Chair, Team Leader, The Senior Pastor, The President. Any leader that’s making the decisions or has the title of “The King” in your situation.
What generally happens in an organization is that “The King” develops a style, a system and a reputation for the types of decisions that they will make and the type of feedback that they will take. BTW- that “King” can also be a “Lady.” Those that are closest to “The King” begin to accept those tendencies as the law and over-time challengeable actions, decisions and offenses go un-challenged. The excuses range from,”that’s just how so and so is, to you know they will not even entertain that thought or you can’t say that they will get upset the Kings apple cart.” This type of situation and culture is not good for “The Kings” nor the leaders that follow them.
“The King” ends up leading from an isolated rarely challenged clueless bubble that’s not going to bust because it’s not being poked, prodded and challenged. Those that follow “The King” will sit around and talk about what “The King” is or is not doing and the decisions “The King” is or is not making, which only leads to more problems for “The King” and the organization.
Great Leaders Challenge “The King” which makes them better leaders and him a better King. If an organization is being led by a King that is not willing to be challenged by those around him, the organization is being set up for failure. If leaders are not willing to challenge “The King” they will never be great leaders. If an organizational culture does not embrace challenge at all levels, it’s time to change the culture. Great Leaders Challenge “The King” and Great Kings create a culture where all things, decisions and people will be challenged — Even “The King.”
Let’s take a look at LeBron James aka King James situation last night in their tight game versus their conference foe from the East, the Indiana Pacers. These two teams are the top in the East and are basically fighting for home court advantage. The game was tight, the Heat were losing, tempers were flaring and LeBron James went off on Mario Chalmers after a turnover and leaving Paul George wide open for a shot. The King continued to yell and scream at Chalmers all the way through the time out, Chalmers didn’t take LeBron’s antics laying down he instead challenged The King. Chalmers gave it back to him and let him know that he was wrong.
Initially Chalmers challenging The King didn’t go so well as King James jumped off of the bench and charged Chalmers (as if to fight him) and had to be restrained by his teammates. Chalmers, one of the smallest guys on the team, wasn’t threatened and continued to challenge The King. The great thing about the ending to this story is that The King apologized and said “My Bad, I was wrong.” (see the video of the LeBron James and Mario Chalmers exchange below) More often than not, the King will respect those that are willing to challenge them, their throne, their decisions and their actions. This should always be done in an appropriate, consistent and respectful manner.
If an organizational culture allows for an absolute, imperious, or overbearing control to permeate through their organization, they are setting their organization up to become a dictatorship and ultimately a failure. If an organization and The King allow for challenges and are willing to admit they are wrong, that’s an organization that’s setting themselves up for success, an organization that’s setting themselves up as a championship organization.
Great Leaders Challenge “The King” and Great Kings Want To Be Challenged