Leadership is a gift and a skill. I read a good number of books on leadership, some more helpful than others. But I find that Proverbs-style, pithy, and portable phrases are helpful to me. Like actual proverbs, you can chew on them. So, here are five (mostly unoriginal, yet totally helpful) axioms that are shaping my leadership right now.
Leading Means Listening
When I was a music student as an undergrad we took whole courses on listening. Why? Because you can’t conduct a choir or orchestra well if you can’t hear when one part, one section, or even one player is out of tune. Similarly, I’ve got to listen to my people. Like a great orchestra, the diversity of my people ethnically, socially, and generationally means that we don’t all sound the same, and sometimes we’re out of tune. I can’t just charge ahead, leading means listening.
Do for One…
Famous old Andy-Stanley-ism, but man it’s still so good. The whole thing goes, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.” There are a lot of people in the church, and I can’t personally help everyone. I can be paralyzed by that. But, if I can do for one what I wish I could do for all, I create a culture where all can be helped.
You Can Have Control or Growth, But You Can’t Have Both
Guys I’m such a control freak. I want it all a certain way … my way … the right way! That’s fine as long as I’m willing to disobey the Scriptures and keep our church super small. But if I’m going to make leaders and grow a people, I’ve got to let go of a LOT. Don’t remember who said this one, but high fives to them.
You Can’t Over-Preach Vision and Values
As an achiever, I suffer from serial boredom. Once I’ve done something, it’s really hard for me to go back and do it again. It’s crossed of the list … next! But leading means taking those core truths about who we are and holding them up for all, all of the time. I can’t say our vision and values enough. In fact, the only thing I should be saying more is the actual gospel.
Reaction isn’t Leadership
Being loud, angry, and reactive isn’t leadership. There’s a lot in this world that’s truly horrible and worth getting loud and angry about. And, if I were only concerned with expressing myself, I’d go for it. But as a leader I don’t have the luxury of venting my emotions at injustice and sin in the world. I have to orient a people toward action. So, I’ve got to constantly deal with the PH balance of my soul, and keep myself at a low state of reactivity. Otherwise, my words become acidic and my leadership bullying.
What axioms are helping you?1