I don’t know much about leadership. Most of what I do know I’ve learned in the past five years from a stellar leadership team at the church where I serve. Many opine about the most important leadership skills. I know it’s a fool’s errand to reduce the needed skill set to a handful, or claim that some are more important, but I’ll put these three qualities up against any of the others.
Collaboration is King
Everyone being in on every play is not realistic, and there are some people who would rather work alone. But with those two exceptions, isn’t a team where people bounce stuff off one another, all chip in, and celebrate successes together more fun than everyone going at it alone?
The top down governance of some organizations can be brutal. Dictation via memos, “marching orders,” and the like — not so energizing. Being asked, “What do you think” instead of being told what to do is so refreshing. I’ll take a team builder over an authoritarian any day of the week. In fact, I’m happy to serve with one every day of the week.
Servant Leadership is the Only Kind
I work in the church setting, where being a servant is sort of championed as a core value. Jesus was a servant King. He did not usher in the Kingdom of God from behind his desk. He got his hands dirty. He laid his own life on the line, literally.
If leadership is influence (and it is), then the question that we must all ask is how we can have the maximum influence. If you can think of a way to have greater influence on your people, processes, and results than via serving, let me know. Barking instructions from your corner office may fill you with a false sense of authority, but there is no greater influence than working alongside others on your team.
Our leaders where I work help set up chairs. They pick up little pieces of trash when they see them. As their responsibilities grow there are things that only they can uniquely do, however, that doesn’t stop them from chipping in on “lesser” things.
We’ve made idols out of capable leaders. We read them, listen to their podcasts, follow them on Twitter, and fashion our lives after them. This is a good thing, in some ways. We are wise to learn from other people. But we should not take on someone else’s image and methods if they betray who we are.
I am a deliberate person. I think through things a lot. I have a slow pace. I even walk slow. I’m not lazy — I’m a student pastor, a dad of two, my wife is in grad school and I (mostly) carry my weight around the house, I run a nonprofit, I write a little bit on the side…I’m not sitting around in my boxers playing video games. But while I’m not lazy, I’m also not a super-driven, quick-decision, juggle 100 things at once, stereotypical Type-A kind of guy. I used to think that made me less of a leader.
Now I kind of think…so what?
And so what if you’re not Michael Hyatt or Jon Acuff or John Maxwell or Rick Warren or Bill Hybels or Andy Stanley? You’re you. Be you. When you try to be someone else, people spot your little game of leadership make-believe from a mile off and are less likely to want to follow you anyway. So just be you. You’ll be a better leader because of it.
That’s it. That’s all I know. Value collaboration, serve others, and be yourself. If you get those three things right, you can get a lot of other things wrong and still do just fine.
What about you? What do you know about leadership?