What is a leader? What does a leader do? How does someone know if they have leadership potential? These are many questions I have had in the past that I hope to answer and only because it should make sense for you and I to wonder these ideas.
I am enticed to start a series of posts throughout the lifespan of this blog. You will most likely not see them one after another to keep a variety of content on this site.
Leadership qualities have been at the back of my mind for about a year and I have been intrigued by the importance and need of understanding what a leader is. It’s one of those topics I believe we can never know enough of. But what does it mean to be considered leadership potential?
Before I can start talking about anything that describes a leader in that manner, we need to know what leaders are. If you have read some of my previous posts, you may notice that I like definitions. It’s a good way to find a common understanding of a subject.
Leader: (a person who can) communicate appropriately and motivate others significantly.
Leadership: the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.
Simply because I am writing about being a leader does not mean that I am the best or even a great leader. I am still learning and it’s important to know that leaders should continue to grow. A leader never stops growing.
A leader is made, not born.
There are different opinions throughout the world that say only a consistent set of characteristics culminate from someone who engages to be a leader. I can’t disagree with that more. I am not the person who many would say is the most enthusiastic person, but that doesn’t stop me from seeking opportunities to lead. I have seen a diverse set of skills and personalities from student leaders at a campus ministry I attended in college. It is not an easy task, but you can reach that status if you seek it. God may call us all to become leaders, but so few accept that role.
A leadership position is taken, not given.
You need to seek and take that position for yourself. You can’t expect to be told that you are a leader. You have to earn it. I did say that everyone is leadership potential, but we need to learn what a leader is and how we can align with that type of person. There is a set of responsibilities leaders take. If that person does not acknowledge them, they will fail to take that position.
A leader comes from acknowledging the need for a leader in a group of people and meeting that need. There is a chance that you can be promoted in a company or any organization, but in order to be a leader, you need to act like one. Again, you can’t expect someone to tell you to take action.
A leader has (a) follower(s).
This aspiration of leadership continues through implementing a new mentality into your followers. This can include just one person if need be. They need to know who you are and that you mean business. Former chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, says, “You let everyone know where you’re going and why you’re going there and what’s in it for your followers to get there with you… people hate change, so you need to convince them.” Part of being a leader is realizing that there are people you need to lead. Leaders are foolish if they think they will be on their own.
Last year, in a blog post, I wrote about the 3 Circles of Focus in our life (I didn’t go into much detail, but you can get a brief description). One part of this figure is the “circle of influence”. This means that there are people who will always influence us and people who we will do the same. You may be influenced by someone you come in contact with as you cross a street to go from one building to another. Not only do we look up to people, but there is a good chance someone may be looking up to you. This person can be an offspring, sibling, or someone much older than you. You have an influence on the group of friends you hang with, as well. That is a good enough reason to realize that you could be a leader of some form in your circle of influence.
A lack of leadership in our culture.
There is a need to have leaders in every part of life. A lack of leadership has only become more transparent from my perspective in the personal engagement I’ve had with people in various organizations. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic from the Harvard Business Review has an article that doesn’t provide hope, either. “Leaders should drive employee engagement, yet only 30% of employees are engaged, costing the U.S. economy $550 billion a year in productivity loss.” Chamorro-Premuzic continues, “Moreover, a large global survey of employee attitudes toward management suggests that a whopping 82% of people don’t trust their boss.” Those are not pretty numbers.
There’s a saying I’ve seen on various outlets. That is, “People join companies, but quit their bosses.” Whether this saying is true or not, we must remember, that we can’t be the reason why people should leave any type of organization. A leader is like a shepherd that keeps a flock of sheep together. Jeremiah 23 starts off by saying there may be a consequence for being a shepherd that causes his flock to divide, “’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord.”
If that doesn’t worry you not to care for people who follow you, look at what the NET translation says, “The Lord says, ‘The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.'” It’s a responsibility that we need to be conscious of and take hold of. Don’t let go of the steering wheel in that part of your life.
I hope I planted some sort of seed for you to want to notice the need and how to fulfill it. I’m excited to start learning more about what it means to be a leader and how I can share my findings with you. This is not a scary thing to be aware of but, as I said, an opportunity that needs to be taken.
Remember, even if it’s just your family, God gave you a job to be responsible for a certain group of people or even an individual.