This summer, I’ve been spending some time listening to John Maxwell via audio book. Maxwell is brilliant on leadership. Sometimes, he says things you’ve never thought before, and sometimes he says the most obvious things that you just haven’t given much thought to. It really makes sense when you read his stuff, and you grow a lot as a leader by implementing what he talks about. That being said, I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned.
Leadership is all about people. Management is about processes and program. Leadership is about people. About bringing out the best in people, and bringing your best to people. By adding value to people. So how do you add value to people? I think it begins by genuinely caring about others.
There are some myths about leadership. Hear are some myths about leadership.
Myth #1. Positional Leadership- If someone told everyone that I was a leader, then people would follow me. Wrong. Your position has very little to do with people following you. People follow those who genuinely care, and even more than that people follow those who influence them. Your position has very little to do with influence. I know this is true because I have seen so many people with the title minister who did not display a genuine care of others, and in this, they had very little influence. On the flip side, I’ve been blessed to be around a few people over the past few years who are great leaders. My campus minister, Jeff McMillon is one of the great leaders I know. He genuinely cares about people. So much so that he won’t always give people the answer they want to hear. Jeff loves people enough to say the things they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. The reason he can be honest though, is because he genuinely cares about people and they care about him. He’s a person of influence, who does not try and make his title do the work for him. Rather he leverages who he is for the benefit of others.
Myth #2. “No One Gives Me A Chance To Lead” Leadership- This is the second myth I’m writing now because I believe that this is the complaint of many who want the title of leader. The problem with this myth is that people don’t follow titles. They follow courage. Yes, that is a William Wallace quote. But really, I’ve seen that first hand this year. My good friend, roommate, and co-worker in ministry, Adam Parkhurst is one of the strongest leaders in my group. Why? Because he stepped out of his comfort zone. He began to initiate conversations with people throughout our group. In the past year, Adam has become one of our greatest leaders because he invests in people. I never really talked Adam being a leader. He just led.
Now a lot of people have the mindset of “No One Gives Me A Chance To Lead”. Here are some questions that I would ask to the person who doesn’t think they have the chance or the position.
1. Are you leading yourself? Or are you throwing all your burdens on those your trying to lead? I’m not saying don’t share your life, but there is a difference in sharing your life with those you are leading and placing a burden on them. Do you have some people in your life that you can talk to in a Timothy to Paul way.
2. What is going on in the lives of the people that you want to lead? What are some big things that are happening in their lives right now? What are some of their upcoming decisions? How are they feeling about life right now?
3. When you walk into a room, do you want to hear others, or do you want to be heard? Now, this can be a big tension for leaders. Because leaders are usually outgoing, and most feel like they have something that needs to be said. But the intent of this question has to do with serving. Are you there to hear others, or to be heard? If you’re there to be heard, you will talk about yourself. If you want others to be heard, you will briefly talk about yourself to blaze a trail of conversation others can walk down.
4. Are you actively serving in a room? People don’t follow what you say. They follow what you do and who you are. People are watching you. Are you giving them a good direction to follow?
5. Why do you want to be a leader? This is key. Always go back to the why. If it is to feel better, more powerful, deeper, smarter, more mature, more secure, smarter, funnier…then rethink why you want to lead. Leadership is influence. Who do you want to influence?
Myth #3. Leadership Won’t Cost Much
This is a big myth. Leadership is costly. It takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes your money. Because the cost of leading isn’t cheap. Rather, you have to give something away. You give yourself away when you lead. You give yourself to others. You give. Sacrifice. Go the extra mile. You feel completely worn out sometimes. And often those are the times when you will hear the most criticism. And people will criticize you. Your ego will not be what it was if you’re a good leader, because you will constantly be trying to find a better way to do things and challenge yourself. It will be tough sometimes to listen to people who have given very little thought to what they have to say, or very little thought to a circumstance criticize you for the way you do things. You may even think, “Besides the objections you have to this new thing we’re doing, I have fifty more. Because I’ve thought about it more.” But you will sacrifice your pride and listen to them because leadership means you give. (Sometimes though, when you’ve had enough of those conversations with the same person and they’ve given no thought to what you’re saying, they are just mad, you don’t stick around forever in those conversations. Why? Because fifty conversations lasting 30 minutes each, which is 25 hours of your time given to someone who isn’t really wanting to move forward. As Andy Stanley says, “Leadership is a stewardship. It is temporary, and you’ll be held accountable.”
Myth #4. Leadership comes from leading.
Leadership comes from following. If you’re not following a path of truth, integrity, and hope…eventually your leadership will come crashing down on you. Because you can’t take people where you’re not going. And you can’t really go where someone hasn’t been. (The universe? God’s been there. Follow Him.) But really, you gotta be following. If you’re not teachable you will never be a good leader. Sorry. You won’t. Leadership is about following something, and hopefully someone with your whole heart. The only way I can lead anyone well is to follow Jesus well. That is why the most important thing I can do as a leader is keep my relationship with God fresh. How can I give to anyone else what I don’t have?