We were talking about leadership on last Saturday morning’s Coffee Chat Show and I was reminding you all that everyone is a leader in SOME way in their lives. As parents we are certainly leaders for our children. Below is one of my pieces on Leadership that was included in a book, it is one of my favorites and I wanted to share it with you again:
Often people think of ‘Leadership’ as something that comes with privilege, they assume that once a person serves in a leadership capacity, they enjoy a ‘charmed’ life. They forget that REAL leadership is ‘power WITH’ not ‘power over’.
When a calling has been placed on your life to lead, life itself sets out to equip you for it. This usually involves challenges and circumstances that will bring you to your knees. When you are in God’s leadership training you don’t get a manual or a letter in the mail, no email comes and no instruction booklet is available. Life just starts to kick the crap out of you, challenges materialize from all over and you can be sure they will include betrayal and disappointment.
Many people ‘want’ to be leaders; they envision that being a leader is important, filled with glory and has a lot of perks…perhaps they even think that being a leader is where the ‘money’ is. The truth? Being a leader, is in fact, more difficult than any other task. Being a good or great leader? That requires more work than most people can even fathom.
In order to lead you must be able to follow…happily and humbly. You must be able to take direction and work within someone else’s framework even if you think you could do it better. If you can’t follow someone else then NOBODY will ever follow you, no matter how amazing you perceive yourself to be. This is an important skill to understand, the act of following happily and humbly. I promise you that every great leader began by following someone else first.
To lead successfully you lead by example, you first do the task that you wish to entrust to someone else. You need to have executed that task with excellence to understand what it feels like to complete that particular thing successfully. If you want to direct people then you have to be coming from a place that includes already doing that work, otherwise people will ignore your requests and resent you. If you think you are too good to clean windows or toilets or empty trash, yet you imagine that someone ‘beneath’ you should do those things, then you are not leadership material. Any attitude of ‘entitlement’ has no place in leadership.
I don’t care who you are or who you think you are—nobody is beneath you and you are not better than anyone else on the planet. You may be different and you may have more advanced skills and you may make more money, however you are not ‘better’ than any other human being. God created all of us equal and to be a great leader you will do well to remember this and to treat people accordingly.
Real leaders want to build people up and help them get to the next level in their lives; leaders know that their job is to leave everything better than they found it. They make it their business to INSPIRE other people and contribute to them. Leaders speak about possibility and they refrain from criticism and sarcasm.
There are so many people trying to succeed and lead and they keep forgetting the source of true leadership which is to lead by example. You first must FOLLOW the disciplines that you wish to teach, you must walk the walk and succeed there before anyone will listen to you. Sure, you can lead without doing this and whatever you are trying to do will fall apart, eventually it will collapse on top of you and you won’t prosper to your full ability.
You can’t sleep late, live like a slob, be rude, and treat people poorly, lack self-discipline and then get dressed up in a suit and go tell people how to be a success. People may look like they are listening, yet you will lack the authenticity needed to produce results. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.
Gandhi said “be the change in the world that you want to see”. Sometimes leaders think that they are an exception to this…
Be authentic, don’t try to teach what you haven’t learned.
See you Saturday for Coffee Chat at 8:30am EST.