We've probably all heard the phrase, "It's lonely at the top."
Being a leader is challenging, but I know a group of college basketball teams wanting to be alone at the top when championship night comes to a close.
In the meantime, challenges await and character will be revealed by all of the competitors.
Who will have the courage to overcome a nine-point deficit in the final minute? Who will continue to focus despite facing a double-digit seed? Who will step up to overcome the leading scorer's injury and press on toward team goals?
In life or in sports, quality leaders are those who have wisdom, experience and understanding. This may contrast with some people's views that good looks, wealth, popularity and the willingness to do anything to get to the top are what's important.
Wisdom, experience and understanding should be evident in us as we lead, and also should be evident in those we expect to lead us.
Think about athletes in the news. Are they ruthless in accomplishing their goals?
To some, winning is everything, no matter how they do it or who gets in the way. Those leaders intend to get power for themselves and keep it.
In contrast, true leaders work within a team atmosphere and defer the glory and attention to their teammates. They stay humble and hungry.
Is your leadership self-serving or serving others?
It's easy to be critical of those in charge, focusing only on negative characteristics. We cannot excuse leaders who commit wrongdoing, but we should respect the positions of those in authority.
Great leaders realize they may have ultimate control and could give orders on their own, but they choose to involve others in leadership.
It's tempting to do everything according to our own agenda and reap all the praise, but effective leaders listen carefully to others' opinions, and they encourage others to participate in the decision-making process.
Leadership must come not only by word but also by action. Are the leaders you know selfish, immoral and opportunistic? Or are they compassionate, serving and have high integrity?
If you run an organization, make sure your captains are mature enough to take on leadership roles. Too often, an organization desperate for workers will either prematurely thrust individuals into positions of responsibility or for the wrong reasons altogether.
In high school basketball, our coach was looking to shake up the team because a malcontent insisted on goofing off in practice.
He was a huge distraction, but our coach didn't know how to handle him. As players, efforts to stop him failed, and he insisted on being a distraction. Coach didn't have the courage to dismiss him, so he promoted him to captain. He hoped putting him in a position of leadership would help him lock in as a responsible young man. It backfired.
When leaders work together to do what's right, by meeting the needs of others - even if it hurts - then it won't be so lonely at the top.