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equipping, leadership, soul care, strength, trust

Do you really need a title?

March 10, 2016

A title isn't needed to lead. Leadership is a posture not a position.

Clever quotes from leaders about leadership abound; my personal favorite is John Maxwell’s:

“Leadership is influence.”

It doesn’t matter where your ‘position’ is, and you don’t need a title. You might be brand new to a team, in your first week on a job, maybe a college student, or simply attending a connect group…God’s positioned you for leadership. But it begins with your posture. If your mind is bent on title and recognition, your influence will not get very far. But if your heart is set on seeing present and potential growth in others, and yourself, your influence will lead you higher and higher.

The first person to influence and lead is You. Paul boldly wrote, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16)

  • Are you a leader worth following? Would you follow you?
  • Are you allowing people to invest in you? It’s especially important to have people who are willing to invest in you one-on-one and face-to-face, and second to that, also important that you are allowing people to invest in you in other ways…phone, email, books or blogs.
  • Are you open to the influence of wise counsel around you…or do you tend to ‘drop’ people who don’t buy into your influence, to replace them with yes-people, those who will agree with you?
  • Who are you accountable to? Who has permission to ask you any question, any time, about any area of your life?
  • Are you intentional about building good character, making good pre-decisions, and have personal values that you’ve committed to sticking to?
  • Can you be counted on?

The disciple Paul was not arrogant when he said with confidence: imitate me. He ran strong and courageously after Christ, and his assurance came because he was pressing hard to lead well by following Jesus’ example. Leadership requires character, integrity and studying/imitating Jesus…and that takes personal work. There is effort in becoming a leader, and more effort in becoming a leader worth following.

After you lead yourself well, your next step to leading is ‘sideways’ out of integrity and positive influence. Leadership is not telling people what to do, nor holding them at a distance, nor withholding information for power. I was in a business meeting this past week for the purpose of strategically developing an environment (and hopefully a culture), where it’s “safe” to speak up. Those environments are somewhat rare. The person facilitating the meeting happened to say, “You can’t manage a secret.” Brilliant insight! At that moment it occurred to me: Far too many in leadership and ‘influence’ use secrets, or withhold information simply to gain personal power. And many positional leaders shut meetings and teams down, unwilling to allow different perspectives or problems to rise to the surface for dialoging, out of insecurity or offense. Whether leading ‘sideways’, ‘up’, or ‘down’, influence is best gained by seeing the validity and potential in others around us, creating culture that provide others’ voices to be heard, and creating impact out of an individual’s own confidence in Christ.

Leadership is maintaining a generous and loving posture towards others, desiring to see them succeed and reach their God-given potential. It’s also shepherding and giving them opportunity, or even protecting people like Jesus did when they’re hurt or broken. To lead well, from any ‘position’ gain your own ‘posture’ of:

  • LOVE: love God, love people, love yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
  • PRAYER: express your dependence on God, not yourself. (Ephesians 6:18)
  • LISTENING: communication is essential to leading, and listening is the key to communication. (James 1:19)
  • HUMILITY: safe teams, groups and environments are a result of humble leadership, which fosters truth, trust and creates healthy self-awareness. (Ephesians 4:2, Phil 2:3, Proverbs 11:2)
  • AUTHENTICITY: God created you as you, uniquely and beautifully made; be yourself and all He created you to be! (Psalm 139:13-14, 1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 119:73-74, Isaiah 64:8)
  • ENCOURAGEMENT: help people see themselves as God created them…as images of Himself. (Genesis 1:27, Romans 15:4, Ephesians 4:29)
  • CONSISTENCY: follow through on what you say, and your promises; consistency demonstrates integrity. (James 5:12, Matthew 5:37)

What’s your next step towards becoming a leader worth following?