In the world of leadership there are a lot of different approaches. Scads of books have been written. Everybody is an expert! Or at least would like to appear as one. The world feeds off a leadership model that is connected to power. Power of personality! Power of position! Power that comes from having the most resources! I play a little poker from time to time and it is interesting to see how people react to having the power of being the chip leader. Mild mannered men turn to power brokers and begin to bully the other players when they get into the lead. I have to admit I am a little like that (actually a lot like that). But, is that really what we should be looking for in a leader. Over the years I have seen a lot of leaders and have been influenced by a lot of leaders. I have observed some characteristics that seem to separate the good ones from the want-to-bees.
Serve Others- Jesus said it first, if you want to be great you have to become the servant of all. The great leaders I have seen work hard at making sure the people they lead have what they need to be successful. Serving others doesn’t mean doing their work for them but it does mean doing whatever it takes to help them . Sometimes that mean coming along side them and rolling up your sleeves. Many times it means making sure they have the resources they need. Asking a soldier to go to war and then not providing him with any bullets is wrong! Make it a priority to evaluate what someone needs to accomplish the task assigned and serve them.
Accountability – Another characteristic of great leaders is the ability to provide accountability. And make you like it! Some leaders provide accountability in a manner that is akin to a mother’s nagging to clean your room. I remember when I was a kid and was living with my grandmother. I would sometimes be on the way to do something and she would call out from the back room for me to do the very thing I was headed to do. And I would turn around go back to couch and watch TV. Talk about immature! Everybody has an ideal way in which we respond to accountability. Great leaders figure that out and apply it. Remember the goal is to get the vision accomplished not become somebody’s mother. Although sometimes it takes a consistent diet of reminders to move some people.
Vision – Do the people you are leading know what to do? Better yet do the know why they are doing what they are being asked to do? Without a vision people struggle under the drudgery of semi-connected tasks. Vision casting has to do with seeing the big picture and knowing how to pull that off in bite sized chunks. The old adage about how do you eat an elephant applies here. You eat an elephant one bite at a time! Vision helps people see that an elephant needs to eaten but also gives them practical tools (i.e. a knife and a fork) to make it happen.
Encourage – A word of encouragement timely spoken brings refreshment to the soul. Have you ever known a person that just had a way of saying the right thing at the right time. Encouragement put courage in the heart of people. The leader who assumes that people are trying to do the right thing and tries to bolster their resolve will make more progress with people and get them to accomplish more than the leader who assumes that everybody is out to gig the company. Cynicism is a all time high. And in many cases rightly so because there are many who are just skating by. But all leaders who will be worth their pay will have a heart of an encourager. People need people who inspire them to move beyond themselves and into a world of productivity that they didn’t know was possible.
Want to be a leader who S.A.V.E.s the company? Learn to serve! Learn to hold people accountable! Learn to be a vision caster both conceptually and practically! Learn to encourage others! The world needs leaders like that. I need leaders like that. I want to be a leader like that. How about you?