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The Benefits of Sacrificial Leadership

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I sat in the bulkhead row on a recent flight. It’s the one that’s just a few feet and a curtain away from the enviable luxuries of first class. Through that curtain I was able to witness an incredible example of how sacrificial leadership pays off.

A mother boarded the plane with her small child and realized they’d been assigned seats on different rows. To no avail, the flight attendant tried to find coach passengers who were willing or able to trade seats so that the mother and her child could sit together. That’s when a gentleman in first class stood up and practically demanded that the mother and her child take his seat and the empty one beside him. In exchange, he took her seat in coach.

The sacrifice of his gesture was magnified by the fact that the flight was longer than most. But, here’s how it paid off for him:

The gentleman from first class was a music industry executive traveling to Nashville in search of business partners for a technology-based music project he was developing. As fortune would have it, his new seat had him sitting next to an angel investor who was looking for new ways to better marry technology and music.

The two struck up a conversation and, by the end of the flight, they reached a principle agreement on the project.

As I sat in amazement watching this business transpire, I could not get over that gentleman’s sacrifice and how it directly led to a great benefit.

Even in sacrifice, sometimes we get back much more than we give.

As always, Lead with Integrity.

– Alfonzo Alexander
President, NASBA Center for the Public Trust