Leaders Need “Precious” Collaboration

“We wants it, we needs it.  Must have the precious.  They stole it from us.  Sneaky little hobbitses.  Wicked, tricksy, false!”  -J.R.R. Tolkien

Over recent years cinema has re-introduced us to the literary work of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Legendarium…known as the fictional universe of Lord of the Rings.  Tolkien’s work, at its essence, focused on power and temptation…power and temptation that centered around the influence of a Ring.

While the influence of the Ring ran far and wide…the character that paid the heaviest price under it’s power was Gollum.  A Stoor Hobbit whose life had been ravaged under the influence of the Ring…a Ring which he referred to as “my precious”.

And while Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings may be able provide us an overwhelming list of leadership lessons…understanding Gollum and the influence the Ring held over his life may provide the most “precious” lesson for us in our current circumstances.

“Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!”  -J.R.R. Tolkien

For far too long, Gollum has served as the model for many a leader.  Instead of a Ring…learning and knowledge has served as their “precious”.  A “precious” to be held tightly…accumulated and hoarded.  A leadership treasure to be stored…only to be shared when serving self-interest.  A model that no longer works for modern day leadership.

For all intents and purposes…knowledge is no longer a commodity as much as it is a collaborative tool.

Unlike Gollum, the best leaders in our current world no longer see learning and knowledge as a commodity to be hoarded…rather, knowledge is a collaborative tool to increase the value of their organization and those within.  What many leaders fail to recognize…the more we share, the more receive in return.  Collaborative processes enhance more than they diminish the value and influence of the leader.

It is in the hoarding and hiding of what we know that we lose its value.  What is “precious” only grows when it is watered and nurtured.  What is hidden away eventually withers and dies.

“The treacherous are ever distrustful.”  -J.R.R. Tolkien

The collaborative leader shares their gifts and knowledge to the benefit of the organization and the people they lead.  The seeds they plant grow forth fruit…coming back to them and those they lead in abundance.  Their sharing results in more, not less.  Which is where many a leader has been misguided in their understanding of their “precious”.

What is “precious” is a gift.  And our gifts are given to us to be shared.  When we choose to not share we often end up like Gollum.  Distrustful.  Unhappy.  Living a life that is miserable in its miserly ways.  A life closed off from others.

“Precious, precious, precious!” Gollum cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!” And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail precious, and he was gone.”  -J.R.R. Tolkien

In the end, we don’t want to our leadership to go the way of Gollum.  It is a path that leads to nowhere.

Modern leaders must look to collaborative processes if they are to take a different path…a path to better ways of doing and being.

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”  -J.R.R. Tolkien


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