Your Leadership Legacy
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:72)
King David’s leadership legacy is inspirational. Building on a heart of strong character and high values, he developed the skills to lead his people well. But it takes intentional effort to build that integrity of heart and skillful hands. That kind of legacy starts with learning to lead ourselves well.
One trait of a good leader is that they’re going someplace.
What changes when a person follows a leader? If the follower does nothing different because of the leader, that leader is irrelevant. A good leader guides followers to make choices they wouldn’t make without the leader’s guidance. Leaders help us choose the right actions to achieve the right outcomes.
Apply that to leading yourself. As a good self-leader, you’ll influence yourself to do things that aren’t your natural choices. Yes, we are talking about self-discipline, but not just self-discipline for self-discipline’s sake.
One trait of a good leader is that they’re going someplace. When our leadership skills are strong, people follow us because they believe we can take them someplace they want to go. Sure, they may follow us because it’s the only way to get a paycheck, or so they won’t get in trouble, or numerous other reasons. But those reasons aren’t based on our leadership skills.
So where are you going? Can you describe your destination clearly enough that others want to follow you there? Is it clear enough that you want to follow yourself there?
Can you describe your destination clearly enough that others want to follow you there?
Here are four steps for leading yourself well:
1. Know where you’re going.
What good works did God create for you to accomplish? Spend some time intentionally seeking the answer to that question. He may not reveal it all at once, but be persistent with God until you’re at least clear on your next destination.
There’s more than one way to reach any destination. Are you driven by number of lives impacted? Or is depth of impact more important than breadth? Maybe you’re wired for creativity and new innovations energize you? What trade-offs are you not willing to make? Are there values you hold to strong enough to say, “I would rather not reach my destination than get there that way”?
When I started my consulting business, I read a lot about consulting best practices. One piece of common advice was to toot your own horn often and loudly, promising yourself as the solution to everyone’s problems. While I recognized the need for confidence, I also recognized that God’s call for humility, a trait that doesn’t come easily to me, was a higher value. I decided from the get-go that I would shut down my consulting practice if it pushed me toward cocky arrogance and hindered God’s work on humility in my life. Avoiding the strong pitch has undoubtedly cost me some business, but I’m fine with that trade-off.
2. Know what matters about how you get there.
Our actions and choices are always driven by our values, good or bad. The clearer our important values are to us, the easier it becomes to use them to make good decisions. Prayerfully consider your non-negotiable's and hold yourself accountable to them.
“It is not good for the man to be alone,” from Genesis 2:18 has broader application than just marriage. God designed man to work together to accomplish his purposes. Even Jesus engaged others in his work. And he sent the disciples out by twos. I’m a fairly extreme introvert, but I make choices contrary to that wiring to be about my Father’s business.
3. Recognize you can’t get there alone.
Committing ourselves to the success of others is always God’s design for how to achieve our own success. See Philippians 2:3-4, 1 Corinthians 10:24, and many other references…
The consensus seems to be that we each make about 35,000 decisions every day. Thankfully, many of those are done on auto-pilot as our values execute at a subconscious level. That’s one reason to have clear, strong values. But our conscious choices are our opportunity to strengthen those values.
Discipline yourself to examine your choices to see if they are taking you where God called you to go; according to the values your life is rooted in; and functioning in the context of the larger body of Christ into which you have been called.
We can’t reasonably expect others to want to follow us unless we are leading ourselves well. That means rooting our choices and actions in a clear understanding of God’s call on our lives.
Alan G. Weisenberger is the founder of enLumen Leadership Services. Alan served 11 years with a major national bank and 20 years as a Vice President with Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU). Now he comes alongside future-focused leaders to turn leadership potential into leadership success.