Sometimes people fall under the impression that leaders are only the people at the top. And because they think this way, they ignore the opportunity for leadership development. The problem with this mindset is leadership is not designated for only a certain group of people. Leadership is a process of influence—and everyone influences someone.
This means you are a leader. Because, unless you live completely isolated, you influence someone. And, whether you lead one or many, you have an opportunity to grow and become a leader who leads well—on purpose.
Consider the things that good leaders do:
- Show Insight
They learn and grow and have the insight and wisdom to think about the future in order to define where they go.
- Take Initiative
They don’t wait, they go first, doing difficult things in order to keep everything moving.
- Gain Influence
They consistently look for ways to influence and persuade the people around them in order to help them move forward.
- Make an Impact
They have a passion to change the things that will change the world. And they pass that passion down to those they lead.
- Live with Integrity
They keep their word and function by a consistent set of governing values.
Lead with Purpose
Looking at the list above, which traits do you think you already display? And which traits show areas where you have room to grow?
If you look at this list and feel discouraged because you don’t “measure up”—stop. Leadership is not about perfection—it’s about movement. And movement with purpose is powerful. When you begin to do things on purpose, with a goal in mind, you will begin to understand the importance of your current influence. So, if you read this list and find things that you do well now, that shows great insight.
Recognizing ways to improve your leadership purpose and potential are good things. However, for leaders who follow Christ, we have a different motivation than self-improvement and self-discipline fueling our desire to become better leaders.
Our Lord seeks to develop leaders willing to change the world. That kind of leadership requires something special, and almost counter intuitive—it requires servanthood.
A Simple Test
I want to give you a simple test. But prepare yourself. Because while it is simple, it is not easy. In fact, you may find that the self-examination required is quite difficult, making you consider things about yourself that you might not want to. The more honest you are with yourself, the more effective this test will be. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What evidence in my life is there of personal growth?
- In what ways do those I lead grow as people?
Give examples of times when your leadership allowed those you lead to become healthier, wiser, freer, more pro-active, or more likely to become a servant to someone else?
I commend you for starting here, for taking an honest look at yourself and answering these questions. Next, we want you to do something else with these questions.
Ask those you lead how you are doing. I have found that if you truly commit to knowing the answers, you must ask those experiencing your leadership how you are doing. This includes: your employees, your wife, your husband, your children, and anyone else you influence.
Recognize this can be difficult, but be willing to ask. Do those that you lead feel that under your leadership and your service they are growing?
Asking and then finding out you have things to work on is not a crisis. Not asking, and therefore never knowing, that is the tragedy. Do not be afraid of making mistakes, but be very afraid if you are not willing to face your mistakes.
My hope for you is that you recognize that you already have an important place in the space that you are in. You are an influencer. Open your eyes and your hearts to consider the impact you might be able to make right where you are—if you are willing to lead as a servant. Keep fighting the fight friend; you were called to greatness for His sake. The struggle to learn your way is worth everything it takes to find it.