Leading change requires risk-taking. Calculating how much risk will drive the desired change – but moderating that amount to avoid being “taken out” is one of the central challenges of leadership (using this term to describe the activity not the people “in charge.”)
It is important to remember that to lead, one must stay in the game. Getting yourself taken out means you can’t do anything for the people or cause about which you care the most. In fact, martyrdom is one of the least impressive skills. Think about it – anyone can do it. If we offered a random group of people a vast sum of money to get themselves fired from their current jobs – everyone would be in the running.
What is really impressive is a person who can put pressure on the system while remaining viable in that system. It takes skill, persistence, planning, courage and at times a bit of luck. What it really takes is partnering well with others. Operating alone is the most dangerous approach one can take in exercising leadership. Working alone not only makes it easier to get taken out, ideas that dwell inside our heads are better served with vetting and input from others – every time.
So before you martyr yourself, regardless of the nobility of the story playing in your head – step back, find partners and stay in the game. Good luck.