Deep Imprints

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Do Leaders help us grow?

We need leaders because they provide structure and vision.

How does one lead, provide structure and vision, and not exude power?

I really don’t have the answer, but I am chewing on the question. I’d like your input.  Here are some things that come to mind:

1. Humility – A leader who provides focus and structure without going on a power trip needs to be firmly aware that the people they are leading are smart – probably smarter and more capable than we are.

2. Equipping – A good leader feels like they have to have the answers. However, the truth is that only God has the answers, and He puts us in groups to work together. The people God has put us with are part of the solution – our job isn’t so much to tell them what to do, as show them how to grow, work together, and make a difference.

3. Barrier removal – a big part of equipping is removing barriers – barriers between people so that people from different backgrounds can work together; barriers within a person’s mind so that they can become who God created them to be.

Leadership can be easy, and it seems that when it is easy, people are a bit crazy – they ‘drink the koolaid’ so to speak. God didn’t call us to crazy, He called us to service.

In service, we find the people who are ready to make a real difference, we remove barriers for them, equip them with the skills and connections they need, we listen to their dreams and help them figure out how those dreams fit with the visions and dreams of others. We show people how the visions God gives them work with others. We help them work together.

So how do we figure out where to point the arrow? If God is giving the dreams and visions, when we listen to the whole, we will find the connectors. As we listen, we learn, and eventually, we see.

Consider this – if an accident happens in an intersection, if you ask the lady standing on one of the corners, you will get a perfect recollection of what she saw…from her angle. However, if you really want to find out what happened, ask someone standing on each corner. As you hear their stories, you will find the commonalities – those are the facts.

2 Comments

  1. Wow! There is lot in that and since my Masters degree is all about leadership it definitely got the wheels rolling. First thought: Does leadership and power necessarily need to go together. In our society it seems to go this way because we give leaders power. Obama won the election because of his ability to mobilize people (and their money) behind his ideas. He is in a position of power because of his ability to engage people on an emotional level. We, the people, gave him that power. But, I would say that the greatest leader to impact and change our world was Jesus, and he rejected power when people tried to thrust it upon him. Perhaps true spiritual leadership rests more in empowering others while turning away from it ourselves.

    It is true that leaders provide structure and vision, but is that their only function? I would say, “No.” Managers can provide structure and vision but may not necessarily be good leaders. Leaders (vice managers) inspire and connect. With a leader the structure and vision may actually come from his/her team, and not from some personal idea of how to do something. Leaders do more than organize, in fact I would say that they really shouldn’t be organizing at all, they recognize and utilize the abilities of others. Leaders above all else capitalize on the strengths of their teams.

    You stated that leaders are defined by humility. I would say this to be true but I have also come to believe that those that are truly humble are also supremely confident. True leaders follow as well as they lead because a great leaders knows that his/her greatest task is to reproduce themselves in their people. If you aren’t confident enough in yourself, your position and you team this is an impossibility. You cannot ever let go enough to be humble enough to follow those who you guide. Our teams confidence in themselves and the mission rests in our ability to say, “Great idea! Take that for action.” That’s humility.

    You said that leaders equip mentioning what I mentioned above about deferring to those on our teams. However, equipping is more than individual development and team building. Equipping requires education, confidence building, breaking down barriers, identifying needs, and providing the necessary tools. It does me no good to tell my team that I need a screen porch built on the back of my house without guiding them through the process of how to make that happen. It requires a lot of questions and answers and a lot of back and forth, mainly to address the fears people have about doing something they’ve never done before. Anyone can hammer a nail but not everyone is confident about building a screen porch. Leaders instill that confidence in their team to get the job done and that is equipping.

    You then discussed barrier removal as a key skill in equipping our teams. Leaders understand that most barriers are in people’s minds and really not that big of deal when you actually address them. Barriers usually sit in two categories, “I never…” or “I always…” and both of these statements are rooted in fear. People like their little boxes. They are secure in the predictability of them. However, leaders have to kick down the boxes, mostly in people’s minds. Joy Bevere once said, “When you face your fears, you become fearless.” Getting people to face their fears in a huge step to barrier busting. We as leaders have to give our people permission and space to fail. We have to be brave enough ourselves to accept that failure is part of growth. Thomas Edison is reported to have said on his 100th failed attempt to make a light bulb, “Well, we now know 100 ways how not to make a light bulb.” Leadership is often giving your team the freedom to break some glass, knowing that ultimately you are going make a light bulb.

    You mentioned that easy leadership is often crazy. I would say that what makes that leadership crazy isn’t that it was easy, but the leaders motivation to obtain power. It is power sought for powers sake. Being in a powerful position doesn’t make a leader crazy but seeking leadership in order to be powerful does. Think of your Jim Jones reference, or Hitler for that matter. This kind of leadership is born out of fear. It has no confidence. Whatever our skills at being able to equip, inspire, motivate, and connect if those skills do not rest in a place of confidence there is insanity.

    Godly leadership understands that it is often the hard things that best define us, and that hard things are often marked by failure. Godly leadership sees the big picture. Godly leadership knows that it is not always about success but how much we have nurtured others into being brave enough to look like Jesus – who by the world’s standard, was a failure.

    • Kim

      02/03 at

      Rhoda, thanks. I’ve been contemplating the whole idea all day. Leadership is all about root attitudes, it sounds like. I am going to look tomorrow at some of the strengths of the upside-down pyramid, and contemplate how the more free-flowing arrow could garner those strengths.

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