There are many ways to think about leadership: having a clear vision of what needs to be done. Acting authoritatively. Establishing a clear-cut strategy. Setting the right course and charging ahead (you hope with followers in tow!).
After reading the book, Finding Our Way: Leadership in Uncertain Times by Margaret Wheatley, I was impressed by her alternative set of leadership practices. While she did emphasize something that sounded like vision, she described it as, "Helping people know who they are." And while she spoke of strategy, it was more about giving people the freedom to collaborate a future together instead of being handed a game-plan from on-high.
Here are some of the other leadership practices woven throughout her groundbreaking book:
? Process over product
? People-releasing and permission-giving over people-containment or management
? Resilient (a continuous and optimistic response to change, and looking at change as opportunity vs. enemy)
? Infectious curiosity
? A default of trust
? Presence (an emphasis on listening, discovering, and awareness of who people are and who they are becoming)
? Nurturing (seeking an organization's good over power and control)
? Authentic (leading out of ones' own brokenness and mess)
This is not an easy list. These are not simple practices. In fact, most of them require a commitment to relationship that goes far beyond what many leaders are willing to make. While it may be easier and faster to issue edicts, the long-term result may be that we undermine exactly what we're trying to accomplish.
I think of the fruits of the spirit described in Galations 5:22: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I also think of the description of spiritual gifts and the body of Christ is 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all."
I have to keep asking myself, "Do I lead for the profit of all, or do I lead for the benefit of my ego?" I need to keep checking my heart to see if my influence comes out of the fruits of the Spirit or out of my need to be in charge. Those who lead do so because, somehow, they have been given the power - the authority - to do so by others. How will I use that power? How did Jesus use his?
Today, take a few minutes to do a "leadership check-up," and if you're willing, share some of the results with us. If you had a few areas that needed adjustment, just know that you're in good company.