Today, I will draw my leadership lesson from the Bible and focus on Jesus. On your leadership journey, you are going to have to deal with critics. They have nothing constructive to contribute to your vision but their goal is to hurl stones at you with the intention of halting your momentum. There is a time to answer your critics but there is a time, like Jesus, to keep quiet and ignore them.
I discovered this quote by Napoleon Bonaparte which states that “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.” A number of leaders fail because they lack the flexibility to adapt in the face of changing landscapes. They allow unexpected changes to their plans to paralyse them. We all get emotionally attached to our plans that we can lose all objectivity when results and others tell us that we are heading the wrong direction. Some leaders get bogged down by failed plans that they are unable to pick up the lessons from them to create and execute new ones.
Leadership is a results oriented role, hence there is so much pressure on leaders to deliver extraordinary results. You only have to examine the high turnover rate of football coaches in the English premiership and championship leagues to see the amount of pressure to deliver results. The demand for results brings pressure. King Solomon in the Bible stated that “if you fail under pressure, then your strength is weak” (Prov. 24:10).
It is rare for a sports team to go through a season where its star players go the entire season without some injury, suspension or leave on a transfer. A team that doesn’t have a strong bench will struggle when its stars are injured or leave the team. This is where the strength of the team’s bench is critical. The replacements need to be able to step in and perform when there is a vacancy in the team. This ensures that the team doesn’t suffer and fall behind in the league tables. Top teams maintain their edge over the other teams because they have a better and stronger bench.
This is the second and final part of the 2 headed dragon series (if you have not yet read the first part I will encourage you to do so in order to have the full picture). I stated that the first dragon head was uncertainty and today I will tackle the second one – complexity.
As a 21st century leader you will confront the two headed dragon named uncertainty and complexity. A lot of leaders are unable to successfully combat this dragon; as a result, their organisations and teams suffer the consequences. They simply get overwhelmed and fall prey to the dragon. I will tackle the first dragon head (uncertainty) in this post and then address complexity in the next post.
Leadership is a people oriented affair. No matter what your leadership vision is for your family, church, business or organisation; it is your responsibility to develop and release the potential of those around you – your team. A leader’s legacy is dependent on the quality of people he leaves behind when he is no longer in that leadership position. The best way to develop those around you is to coach them. Good leaders are good coaches. They have developed their abilities to spot and harness the strengths and talents of their team members.
I was invited by Steex House to speak at their Fusion Talks Leadership seminar series a few weeks ago. I had a great time and my 20 minute seminar focused on the topic: “Leading from the Overflow”. I told the audience that you are only truly effective when you are leading from the overflow. As a leader, you can only give out what you have and if you keep giving without getting refilled then after a while you will be running on empty. Leadership is people oriented and it is draining – psychologically, mentally, physically, and spiritually. The only way to avoid frustration and burn-out is to operate from the overflow. Such leadership has a multiplier effect on those you lead. Everyone you influence is empowered to become a leader or influencer who empowers others.
Context matters! A lot of leaders sometimes falsely assume that because they are successful in one context, they will automatically be successful in another leadership context. Leadership experience and skills are not always transferable because what worked in one context will not always work in another. It is important as a leader to know what contexts you thrive in. There are some contexts that play to your strengths and you are superstar when you operate in such contexts but there are some contexts that you lack the experience and skills to function effectively.
What are your motives for leading or wanting to lead? Are you recognition-driven or contribution-driven? Recognition-driven leaders usually put their self interests before that of the organisation or the team. Such leaders’ selfish desire for power and glory takes precedence whereas contribution-driven leaders submit their self interests to serve the organization or team they lead. Robert Greenleaf referred to such selfless leaders as servant leaders.