Congratulations! You have been chosen as a leader. The announcement has been made. You move into your new office. Now what?
If you are lucky you have had a wonderful role model in your leaders, but sadly I have found that is not always the case. Our world looks at leadership as a top down, authoritative style of leadership and leadership development is all about outcomes and success in the marketplace.
It is how the world has operated since biblical times. Jesus, himself, came against this type of leader who led with pride and fear and yet it is often the only kind of leadership we see modeled.
So where do we turn to find a godly role model?
So where do we turn to find a godly role model? The Word of God. God sent his only son, Jesus, to model life for us. Jesus, a man of influence led with strength and authority yet was clothed in humility and empathy.
If Jesus was an influential leader, then what are we looking for in ourselves?
What does the Word of God teach us about leadership? Leadership is not authoritative or dictatorial, it is influence.
So what is influential leadership, and why is it the answer? We only need to look within our own selves and experiences to know what it looks like. Think about those individuals whom you admire, those who have helped you along the way. Those who believed in you and encouraged you. Are they not the ones you want to follow? Are they not the ones you trust? Don’t we all want to be that person - that leader who leads with influence? It is not a new concept. Ken Blanchard is quoted as saying “The essence of great leadership is influence, not authority.”
If the right path is influence then how do we become a leader of influence? What did we see in Jesus’ leadership? We see he cared about others, we see he humbled himself to show us the way, and we see he was curious about others, about their thoughts and their lives.
We become a leader of influence through biblical daily disciplines. These three daily disciplines are:
- Curiosity — Leaders need to be curious, always asking questions, seeking input from others, and striving to make things better – because that drives growth.
- Humility — Leaders need to be humble, willing and able to put pride aside and keep their focus on others, because that builds trust.
- Empathy — Leaders need to be empathetic, always valuing people over the bottom line and considering the perspectives of others, because that creates connection.
These three behaviors practiced as daily disciplines create influential leaders — leaders who aspire to be their best and inspire others to follow their lead. It is a cycle of development that continues as the leader stays focused on their own leadership journey while investing in the leadership development of others. It is this cycle that makes for a very smooth leadership transition because you are continually empowering and developing your team to lead before the need arises.
Train yourself to put people first. Serve instead of being served.
In the world’s view this doesn’t make sense, but to the believer it is the only way to lead. It requires us putting aside pride and self and focusing on people. Train yourself to put people first. Serve instead of being served. Listen instead of telling. Making sure everyone has a voice because together we can be so much more and success is so much sweeter.
When you develop yourself in these disciplines and model these behaviors, you will be able to walk into your new leadership role with ease. That trust and connection you developed will be the bridge between you and every other member of the team.
Finally, study the Bible. It is full of leadership stories that show leaders God chose to fulfill his purposes on earth. Be encouraged to know that he chooses ordinary people to lead. People after his own heart.
One of those leaders was David. He was not without fault, but he had a heart after God. God showed him the way and put others around him to advise and help him. Lean on God’s teachings and walk into your new role confidently.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:72)
Lauren Vanaman is the Executive Director of Banning Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop leaders and strategies for growth for nonprofit organizations. With a passion for people, she is director of women’s ministries for her church and co-creator of the Aspire Leadership Experience.