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“Leadership cannot be taught. It can only be learned.”- Harold S. Geneen

As I have researched many books and websites about leadership, this quote is the summation of what the bottom line of leadership is. We can read all the things we want and go to all the conferences we want about leadership, but what we are taught can easily be forgotten or lost. We learn by applying; and in applying, we actually learn the leadership principle or practice.

Mark Sanborn is a great author and a man who certainly knows a lot about leadership. Here is an excerpt from “Lessons Leaders Need to Know”.

  1. The responsibility and service of leadership always outweigh the recognition and status.
  2. Responsibility is rewarding, but it isn’t about rewards
  3. Anyone can lead but not everyone should lead. If you don’t have your heart in it, you’ll be mediocre at best.
  4. Leadership doesn’t make a difference; leadership makes the difference, personally and organizationally.
  5. Anything the leader does that benefits only him, or herself, was done out of ambition; leadership done right benefits others as well.
  6. Consensus building is harder, but far more powerful, than control.
  7. Your impact will rarely be bigger than your vision.
  8. People draw big conclusions for little gestures and interactions.
  9. As John Maxwell says, “It shouldn’t be lonely at the top.” If it is, you’ve done something wrong getting to the top.

10.  I learned from the autobiography of John Ashcroft that, as a leader, more people will befriend you than be your friend. Understanding the difference is critical.

11.  The best way to gain cooperation is by asking, “How can I help you?”

12.  Leaders make time for what’s important.

 

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Leadership is less about the words, or actions, of the leader and more about the character of the leader.

That’s the conclusion I’ve reached, after revisiting what the Bible has to say about leadership within the church. For example, we can look at a handful of passages and come to this “job description” for leaders:

  • Encourage others. (Romans 14:19)
  • Set an example with your speech, life and faith. (I Timothy 4:12)
  • Remain pure. (I Timothy 4:12)
  • Embrace humility and gentleness. (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Promote peace and unity. (Ephesians 4:3)
  • Avoid arguments and quarreling. (I Timothy 2:24)
  • Gently instruct others. (I Timothy 2:25)
  • Maintain emotional control. (Titus 2:6)
  • Demonstrate integrity in your actions and speech. (Titus 2:7-8)
  • Live your life above reproach. (I Timothy 3:2)

Do you have the character of a leader?

It’s time to sit back and ask yourself these four questions and then wait for that deep, honest, transparent answer. If you can give a quick answer to these questions – then you haven’t thought about them long enough.1. What do I need to stop doing?

  1. As a leader I need to be sifting through my life and searching for the character traits that are NOT helping my team, nor my relationship with God. We need to ask this question about once a month to make sure that our plate is not too full  -otherwise we are running in circles.
    So make a list  … it might be tough, but let’s be honest … it’s needed.
  2. Do I always have to be right?
    As a young guy, I feel, at times, that I have to prove myself by always being right. God never said I had to be right, but rather be OBEDIENT. As a leader, I shouldn’t ever have to push or pull my way through a conversation; but rather, ask myself, “Is this conversation worth it?”
  3. Am I helping the people around me succeed?
    If you are already doing this, then “Yea!” for you; however, to get real feedback, ask those closest to you. I hate asking this question of my closest friends, because the answer may hurt; but I know it WILL help me in the long run.
  4. Am I speaking positively of other people?
    It is very easy to share something in confidence, about another person’s faults or poor decision-making – and say it isn’t gossip. The truth is, this question wasn’t for you to think about those people that you like; but rather those people you have a hard time being around.

One of the signs of a secure leader is: they can speak positively of other people without having to get in a little “dig” at the same time.

I think it is so interesting that this simple question has created such a pat answer from everyone. When someone asks us, “How are you?”, our answer, regardless of what’s going on, is more often than not – “Good”. I mean, our life could be falling apart from every angle, and yet, that’s what we give, that’s what we answer. I know that oftentimes we just don’t want to go into our story and have to keep repeating everything; and so, we give the pat answer.

On the flip side, we subconsciously expect that answer from those we talk to. As a leader we need to get past the surface with those we lead. When you ask that question, look into their eyes not at their lips – waiting for “that” response. The greatest form of respect given is when you look someone in the eyes and really ask; if you have been doing your job as a leader, then you already know if something is wrong. Let’s face it, there is not a single person that is doing “good” all the time.

Remember people need to come first, not projects. Sure the projects need to be completed, but if your team is not behind you, then you’re just taking a walk … alone.