Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leadership!!! Do you really know what it means?

There are many questions about leadership. I am leader in my own life. I am a leader in my home. I am a leader as an ordained minister. Being a leader has often come naturally to me. So, what is a leader? At the most basic level, a leader is someone who leads others. But what makes someone a leader? What is it about being a leader that some people understand and use to their advantage?

One can define a leader as a person who has a vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skills to make it happen.

Let's look at each of those in detail.

 

The Leader's Vision


A leader has a vision. Leaders see a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal that needs to be achieved. It may be something that no one else sees or simply something that no one else wants to tackle. Whatever it is, it is the focus of the leader's attention and they attack it with a single-minded determination.

It doesn't matter the leader's dream, the leader always has a clear target in mind. This is a big picture sort of thing, it is the new product that makes people say "why didn't I think of that", not just a toaster that lets you select the degree of darkness of the toast. Edison did not set out to build a better candle, he wanted to find a whole new way to illuminate the darkness. That's the kind of vision a leader has.

A minister of a church will discern God's direction and develop that direction to a goal and purpose gained through God's people united in a cause of loving God, loving each other, and loving life. This is the greatest of gifts God has given beyond the new life in salvation. God has already established the purpose of the church as to grow in faith, reach out to others, and serve the less fortunate.

 

The Drive To See It Through


It is not enough to just have a vision. Lots of people see things that should be done, things that should be fixed, great step forward that could be taken. What makes leaders different is that they act. They take the steps to achieve their vision.

Is it a passion for the idea, an inner sense of drive, or some sense of commitment? Whatever it is, it is the strength that lets leaders move their vision forward despite all the obstacles, despite all the people saying it can't be done, it's too costly, we tried that before, or a dozen other excuses. The true leader perseveres and moves forward in truth and grace always loving beyond the call of duty.

 

Trait And Skills A Leader Must Have


There are things that set leaders apart from other people. Some people are born with these characteristics. Others develop them as they improve as leaders. These are not magic bullets. They are fundamental traits of a leader from my perspective:
  • Has integrity. People have to believe that you are pursuing your dream because it's the right thing to do, not just because you are ego driven.
  • Is a people person. Understands the differences that make people unique and is able to use those individual skills to achieve the goal. I think this is my favorite part of being a leader.
  • Is positive. A leader encourages and rewards people and makes you want to do it and do it right. A leader is not a negative person and doesn't waste time and effort telling everyone what they're doing wrong. Encouraging....encouraging....encouraging!!!
Beyond the personal traits of a leader, there are specific skills someone must master if they want to be a leader.
  • Effective communication - it's more than just being able to speak and write. A leader's communication must move people to work toward the goal the leader has chosen.
  • Motivation - a leader has to be able to motivate everyone to contribute. Each of us has different "buttons". A leader knows how to push the right buttons on everyone to make them really want to do their best to achieve the leader's goal.
  • Planning - the leader has a plan to achieve the goal. He/she doesn't get too bogged down in the details, that's what managers are for, but rather uses a high level plan to keep everyone moving together toward the goal. A leader is willing to do the homework it takes to develop a high level plan and then communicate and motivate so as to implement the plan. It is more than details...it is about leadership.
Leaders dream dreams. They refuse to let anyone or anything get in the way of achieving those dreams. They are realistic, but unrelenting. They are polite, but insistent. The constantly and consistently drive forward toward their goal. I love being a leader and I know you can be a leader.
1 Peter 5:2-3 - "Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock."

You know I love ya, Don


For more information on leadership - check out Andy Stanley's "Deep and Wide"; Lance Witt's "Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul"; and management.

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