In 2007, the I-35 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed suddenly during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The investigation revealed that the gusset plates that connect girders together in the truss system were undersized, resulting in a structural flaw leading to its collapse.
A year after the tragedy, The New York Times summarized what went wrong: The bridge was designed in the 1960s and lasted 40 years. But like most other bridges, it gradually gained weight during that period, as workers installed concrete structures to separate eastbound and westbound lanes and made other changes, adding strain to the weak spot.
The designers had specified a metal plate that was too thin to serve as a junction of several girders, investigators say. A weakness built into that bridge went undetected for 40 years because it involved a part so basic that highway departments and bridge contractors seldom considered it even when they re-analyzed a bridge’s capacity.
Leaders carry a certain amount of weight on their shoulders. Leading requires energy, effort, and time. Leadership takes and demands a lot. Effective leadership demands we are constant examples of someone who is firmly founded in honorable values and lives on character and integrity.
Leadership takes and demands a lot
Timothy was a young leader whom Paul mentors especially in the area of character. Paul gives him lots of practical advice in a letter: “Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16 CEV) It starts with me. I must check myself first: my life and what I say. If I don’t live it, my credibility and integrity is failing. The weight of responsibility and leadership over time expose weaknesses. The outcome is I harm the people I’m leading.
The first person a leader must lead is himself. It starts with me. If I don’t lead myself well, I can’t lead others well. What weights of leadership are overwhelming you? How well are you leading you?