Today’s emphasis is leading, not following. After all, it is much more “sexy” to discuss how to lead people better, as opposed to discussing how to become a better follower. I don’t think they can be separated, though. Becoming an better follower will only increase your effectiveness as a leader.
My oldest son was named after a former President. By naming him, we also prayed that God would make him an effective leader, making Godly, principle-based decisions. For those of us that lead people – our spouse, our family, a group of kids, an organization, anything – we need to consider how we will inspire leadership in them.
This week I read an excellent article I knew I needed to pass on. It was written by Bob Tissot, who is the Executive Director of an organization in Michigan. Here are some of the insights I gained from reading his article.
There are 4 points we can consider when it comes to leading others more effectively, and developing leadership in others.
1. Recognize that we are all followers.
Luke 9:23 states,
Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'”
We expect our children, or our employees to follow us. We provide training, discipline, and even rewards for those who follow well. But how about us? The challenge for leaders is for us to remember that we are ultimately following someone as well.
It is challenging to lead people while maintaining a clear vision of the One we are following. Jesus is our example. He was leading the multitudes, yet he made clear who his leader was. Before his crucifixion he prayed:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
2. Determine your purpose in leadership.
I’ve heard it said that the best awareness is self awareness. Knowing who you are and what you do brings clarity to your mission. Why do you lead? We all have a reason. What is your end goal?
For instance, a well-known basketball coach is quoted starting a seminar to other coaches this way: “There are only two reasons coaches coach. They either have a deep care and concern for their players or a huge ego problem.”
The first concern is centered on others, and the second is focused on self. Leadership focused on self is doomed for failure and destruction, not only for oneself, but also others. So why do you lead?
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus came to bring life. As parents, what is the goal of our leadership? And as leaders, what is our goal?
3. Determine a pattern for leadership.
I like reading books on leadership. It seems there is always a nugget to glean in each one. Each one shapes my thinking, but they don’t all contribute to my pattern for leadership. That structure, again, can be learned from Jesus. In Philippians 2, we see that Christ:
- made Himself nothing
- became a servant
- humbled Himself
- became obedient
- obeyed to the point of death
As we grow as leaders, let’s not grow with power in mind. Instead of expending effort to lift yourself up, allow God to do His role. We serve. He exalts.
4. Understand the preservation of leadership.
Criticism comes in the life of every leader. How will you handle it? Most who aspire to leadership are thinking only of the accolades. It’s easy to not consider the many who criticize and critique our every move.
Years ago, I remember telling a young group of leaders that they really didn’t want to lead. They thought they did, but my point to them was they weren’t seeing a full picture of the cost of leadership. I didn’t know it, but at the time I was weary. It was beginning to affect my advice to future leaders.
Galatians 6:9 says,
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
God sustains leaders. We don’t sustain ourselves.
How does this impact your outlook on leadership?