I have eleven graduating students this week, and all will be heading off to colleges in the fall. Nine of these eleven will one day be band and choir directors, and I am so very proud, and grateful, of the other two who are taking completely different career paths, but will still be involved in collegiate music.

Once the sentence is uttered, “I want to go into teaching…” I immediately begin stressing the importance of leadership.

Now, I have a new batch of leaders stepping up to the firing line – that last year before they too, reach up and switch their tassel from one side to the next, leaving behind one chapter so that they might embark on one of the most extraordinary journeys of their lives.

The one thing I stress is to always have a possitude – a positive attitude. Even when our leaders disappoint, we must remain optimistic, for there is a reason that our leaders sometimes will disappoint – they are human.

The Humanity Of Leaders

When we recognize someone as a leader, we often place our faith in that person to a degree that exceeds what is humanly possible. In other words, we expect them to be beyond fault and to not make mistakes. This, of course, is neither realistic nor fair. Just like us, these people are living human lives, and part of the deal is learning through experience and working out our individual karmas. There will always be missteps and things they would do differently given a second chance. If we are to be fair, we must grant our leaders the same forgiveness, compassion, and understanding that we grant our closest friends as they navigate the complex challenges of this human life.

Leaders are special people in that they have the ability to guide and represent large groups of people. In this calling, they agree, to some degree, to be responsible for the well-being of others. Because of this, we hold them up to a higher standard of behavior, and in some ways this is fair. However, we will only be disappointed and disillusioned time and time again if we expect them to be perfect. If they were perfect, they would not be here on earth. Perhaps the most we can expect of our leaders is that they make it a practice to acknowledge their shortcomings and learn from their experiences. Beyond this, when our leaders let us down, it is up to us to forgive and move on. Dwelling on disappointment and negativity creates more of the same.

People who choose to lead are often extraordinary individuals blessed with vision, energy, and charisma. It is their path to inspire, guide, and represent us, but it is not possible for them to never let us down. Leaders are on a path of growth just as we are. Perhaps this is something to remember when we have the opportunity to choose somebody in a leadership role, or perhaps you are ready to step into a role of leadership yourself.