True Leadership (Audio)
For the past few days, I’ve been sinking deeper into a thought, pondering leadership. My bookshelves are full of viewpoints on leadership. If I look back over all the college courses and work seminars of my past, well, those boxes are full of notes on leadership. And, when I think through my mental file cabinets, I can pull out examples and names of leaders I admire, and follow as I lead in my own world.
Some high profile leaders I know personally can easily admire their work because of our friendship, but there are many others who are connected to my spere that I easily admire from afar. I do not have to personally know a leader to recognize their impact and influence!
From a thought I shared yesterday:
Leadership is never a position to attain, it’s an action position. Leaders are never behind, they are in front. They do not point to action, they lead to action, nor do not wait for someone else to find a solution, they lead to solutions. Not everyone is suited for Leadership.
That last little statement sort of digs at me today. Not everyone is suited for Leadership. That may not be the best thought from yesterday! It’s nagging at my subconscious… In some respect, we are all leaders, even to the smallest portion of life that we take ownership of. The Apostle Paul taught that all have been given a “measure” of faith. (2 Corinthians 10:15) Maybe just a smidgen, but with that little bit we can at least do something, even a small portion of the entire ball of wax.
A leader knows how to follow, and they may not have many following what they do, but we are all Leaders on some stage of life. Leadership is not something we are, rather, it’s something we do.
“He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk.” ~John Maxwell
I think this is important enough to distinguish Leadership like this:
- You don’t have to be the leader of the band to be the leader of a section, or a family, or yourself. If leadership is taking action and not just claiming a title, then we are all leaders in some respect. Taking ownership of who we are, where we are going, and what it takes to get there, well, that’s the bottom line. If I don’t take ownership then I’m always waiting for someone else to set the goals and strike off into the future with me in tow.
- To the same degree that we are all Leaders, we are also Followers. There is someone we are responsible for and responsible to. It’s the concept of knowing what to do, and where to go. A Leader that follows no one is a Trailblazer and not everyone is suited to break new trails, nor follow into new territories. But anyone who wants to lead must first learn how to follow. And if you are not a follower then you will never be a leader to me.
Successful leaders are also successful followers. They may know when to step out of the pack and take the lead position, strike out for new horizons, but never at the expense of their roots or foundation. They are builders on top of foundations that someone else started! When I think about this, I instantly think about Geese flying in formation over my house. They change the leaders of their formation regularly so someone with fresh strength can break the force of the headwinds and make it easier for others to follow. In deep snow, leaders of a dog sled team are swapped out regularly so not only one dog has to be the one to pack the snow ahead.
Successful leaders know how to delegate and then get out of the way of success! A successful teacher in any school system is not there to instill facts alone. They are there to spark the creative genius that lies in every student and to get out of the way as they dig in and learn at their own pace!
Successful leaders understand their role. Even the Apostle Paul understood this when he identified himself as a “master builder” who laid a foundation but others built upon it. (1 Corinthians 3:10) His warning to all? Continue building on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters! He was not the one to do it all!
A leader has the capacity to translate vision into reality. A follower has the capacity to recognize direction and look for the support system that will carry them into reality. When these two veins merge then you have the power of connection to get things done.
A leader is a reader and a learner. I’m not sure how you can be a forward-thinking leader if you are not spending quality time developing yourself. At times this will mean listening to someone else, but it always means gleaning information from many sources for self-improvement. Every time I read the Bible I get something new that I never understood before? Why? Because I keep learning and old words have a way of unfolding into new understanding every time I dig in.
I love the Bumper Sticker that says, “Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way!” There have been times to step out and lead, other times to step back in line and follow, and sometime it’s simply best to pull over to the side and let everyone else continue forward!
Bottom line? Even at my age, I want to be a better leader. To my family. To myself. To my church. To my God. This is an everyday thought!
Are you always waiting around for someone else to lead? How about working on being a leader yourself?!!?