One example is Penn State University. As early as 1998 people were aware that assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, had dark issues. But no one took significant action, so they all became part of the problem. Sandusky did not fail alone. The community around him failed miserably to be his safe community. The leaders were sick — the organization was sick. How sick? As sick as their secrets.
A healthy, productive leader is needed for a healthy, productive organizational culture – and we need safe people around us to become that healthy leader. I need people who have the courage to ask the tough questions – and people who I feel safe to tell all.
Here are 5 ways safe people help us . . .
1) Preemptive Protection. Secrets may not be “sin” in the early stages but they can lead you there. A lot of people will suffer the consequences of my secrets, so someone safe needs to hear exactly what I am thinking. And they do not need to be afraid to “speak into my life” when they feel I am moving off course.
2) Authentic Community. Secrets in the leader will cultivate secrets in the followers. No one around you will be honest if you are not. One incredible benefit of community in my life is that the people there treat me like a person, not a leader. So, their expectations of me become more common and I can be honest there. Too many leaders consider community a place to make their churches better but not a place essential to life and personal transformation.
3) Effective Leadership. You may appear successful but you but are you? What is your scorecard? Safe people challenge you by their own example of healthy discontentment in all areas of life – not just the most visual areas. Safe people refuse to have one single measure of success.
4) Personal Growth. No trespassing signs are sadly positioned at key areas of our lives. And yet we move forward, sick and tired, in dire need of refreshment from God. Safe people can be allowed into secret places and that will give us new potential to grow.
5) God’s Glory. A godly and effective leader is an example of the power of God. Tip #1 to creating a transformational culture – let God transform you! Paul the apostle reported the influence of his life story, “they glorified God because of me.” Wow – that’s transformational leadership – from the heart of a transformed leader!