“You don’t have to be a good leader to be a ‘good leader.’ ”
A colleague made this statement to a group of leaders serving in twenty different countries. He got a big laugh. He also got our attention. “Be yourself!” he went on. “Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you. That is what makes you a good leader.”
He has a great point. So many times, I can find myself wondering about whether I’m doing something the right way. I can look at others who have such great strengths, who are able to do things that I cannot seem to do and wonder if I’m leading well. Or sometimes, feeling inadequate, I can do research until I find something that gives me some confidence that I’m headed the right way. Nothing against learning, but nothing and no one takes the place of hearing from the Lord and having the confidence that comes from ideas, words, or ways that He gives you.
If God has entrusted you with leading for His sake, the greatest need is to be following His lead. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Lean not on your own understanding.” That seems counter to what a lot of leadership books would tell you. Somehow the leader is always pictured with the answer. And it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong if you’re wondering what to do next. Leaders are always at the frontier of their need. You’re taking people places that they have not gone before. Most of the time, you haven’t been there either.
God knows where He wants us to go. We have to listen. We have to wait on Him. He is the primary Direction Setter. We cannot presume that we know, nor can we lean on our own experience. I love it that Jesus did only what the Father showed Him to do, said only what He wanted Him to say. Oh, that I would be that in tune with Him each day.
What are your thoughts on being a “good leader?”
Great truth! As I have struggled in my leadership, I have definitely found that I will never be a “good leader” who pleases everyone… not even myself. I am most pleased when I simply lead from what I have heard from Him… for me… for that moment…for that situation… and that is “good” enough.
When I’ve heard from Him, Terri, I have more peace and confidence. He enables me to deal with the ones who may not agree or be happy about what’s going down. one of the biggest lessons of the past few years!
My favorite quote of the blog is “You’re taking people places that they have not gone before. Most of the time, you haven’t been there either. God knows where He wants us to go. We have to listen. We have to wait on Him.” We tend to think in formulas and programs, cause and effect, which sometimes work. Good advice though to listen and wait on the Lord.
Thanks, Steve. Sometimes I think I should already know what to do, even though I haven’t done it before. Whether this is a temptation or just some internalized voice, realizing that the Lord is calling us to new places makes seeking Him for direction seem like a no-brainer! Doesn’t it?
It does seem like a no-brainer, but…It is strange the pressure we place on ourselves as leaders, and the expectations we put on other leaders to KNOW, to have the answer. Do you think that leaders and organizations go thru similar stages of growth as people becoming adults (dependence to independence to interdependence)? Seems like a paternalism could demand that the leader have the answers and solve my problems. Ray Wheeler said in class this summer: a leaders job is to disappoint his/her followers at a rate they can withstand. Pretty good!
Can you recommend any reading on paternalistic organizations?
there is also pressure from followers who do not want to live with ambiguity or even sometimes have responsibility for certain decisions. It’s not just that leaders may expect this from themselves, but others also have expectations of leaders. Some people will ask the leader things that they do not want to have to decide themselves. And there are always critics, who seem to know better from a distance. The truth is that leading people through change is messy and some don’t have much tolerance for it. let me think about the reading question. nothing comes to mind right now.
What makes a good leader is one that lives his/her life with the understanding that greater position and responsibility means greater servanthood. The world’s ways are completely the opposite the higher you go in leadership the less you do and you have others do for you. Jesus truly did show us a better way to live through his last act on earth, the washing of his disciple’s feet. I love your posts and musings. Luba
Thanks, Luba. I so agree with you on the reality of greater servanthood with greater responsibility. Jesus turned the leadership paradigm of His day on its head with this message. not about power, but about serving.
It appears to me that you are in tune with Him. Great post!
I like how you said, “nothing and no one takes the place of hearing from the Lord and having the confidence that comes from ideas, words, or ways that He gives you.”
Even some secular business people are coming to realize that no leader can have all of the answers all of the time. See “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” published in the Harvard Business Review. http://hbr.org/2007/02/in-praise-of-the-incomplete-leader/ar/1
Thanks, Kristen, and thanks also for the link. Looking forward to reading it!
So powerful, thank you