Principles of Leadership – Skills & Servanthood – Part 3

In this third article of the Series, we will discuss What is leadership?

That is a great question. And one that many have tried to answer. it means different things to different people. this is what some well known effective leaders have to say about it:

We define leadership.. as a skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward goals identified as being for the common good. James Hunter – Author

Leaders provide a mental picture of a preferred future and then ask people to follow them there. Andy Stanley – Pastor & Author

Leadership is getting others to want to do something that you are convinced should be done. Vance Packard – Author

Leadership is mobilizing others toward a goal shared by the leader and followers. Gary Wills

Leadership is one who mobilizes; one whose focus is influencing people; a person who is goal driven; someone who has an orientation in common with those who rely upon him for leadership; and someone who has people willing to follow them. George Barna – Author

. leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. John Maxwell – Pastor & Author

Leadership is the influence of others in a productive, vision-driven direction and is done through the example, conviction, and character of the leader. Brady & Woodward – Authors

Most of us will like one of these better than the others or maybe none of them suit your fancy. in any case, leadership is different for each of us. Strong leaders can influence people in almost any direction. it can be used for good or evil. Whatever our agenda might be.

Some are interested in leadership for what they think it can provide them with: Power, Control, Perks, or Being Served. (I smile as I think of the character Frank Burns in M.a.S.H.) Poor or self-serving leadership produces the disintegration of trust, chaos, hurt, confusion, frustration and lack of progress.

The life of the true benevolent leader is that of giving power (empowering others), helping others learn to solve problems so they can move forward, and servanthood (truly being a servant to those we lead).

The Good new is: the ability to lead can be cultivated or acquired. Leadership development is a deliberate process (a decision). there are three characteristics that come to mind when I think of leadership: Hunger (determination, courage and commitment), Teachable spirit (the humility to know we don’t have all the answers), and Integrity. the question is – do you want to do and be what it takes to be an effective leader?

How hungry are you to achieve your goals? do you want them so badly that you are willing to push through the frustration, find the energy to persist and face the nay-sayers in your pathway? Hunger or determination is the key. An attitude of total commitment and courage must prevail for goals and dreams to become reality. (Failure, in one area or another, is inevitable. But, what we do with that failure can make the difference between eventual success or defeat.)

The epitome of hunger (i.e., determination, commitment, courage) is spelled out in Winston Churchill’s speech in front of the Commons just three days after becoming Prime Minister of England during World War II. His country was in great peril and he choose to rise to the challenge:

You ask what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival..

Winston Churchill had determined before taking leadership of his beloved England, that failure was not an option. the point is, he could not be marginally committed, and if we want to be the kind of leader that others can believe in and follow, we cannot be marginally committed either. it is a choice, an attitude, a mind-set. So, we must ask ourselves, What is our policy? how hungry am I to see this through?

Hunger is imperative, but with that, is the virtue of being teachable. We can commit to something and still not know how to get there the one common denominator among all humankind is that none us can knows EVERYTHING. We are finite individuals with finite minds. And so the learning process must begin.

In my own recent situation, learning internet marketing, the learning curve has been huge. there are things about it that, in my practical mind, just do not make sense to me. So, I have a choice. I can do what makes sense to me, or I can listen to those who know more about this business than I do. a humble and teachable spirit must take precedence over pride and a I have never done things that way before attitude.

There is much to learn in life. Ego and arrogance have no place in the heart of a true leader. Leaders are learners, seekers of knowledge. they are the BEST students of human nature, personal experience and the experience of those around them. they seek out individuals that are the best in their arena and learn from them.

Be ever on the watch for ah-hah moments. they may come from reading a book, watching people on the street, talking with a friend, or maybe even the actions or comments of our children. We can learn from anyone and everyone.

The last (and probably most important) characteristic of a leader is Integrity. Leaders can lead for good or evil. We have seen our share of both through the years. I think I heard one of the best descriptions of integrity recently on the Glenn Beck Show. He was interviewing a man named Jon Huntsman. Jon is a self made multi billionaire.

He came from humble roots, from people who believed in hard work and honesty. as years passed the family-owned business he started made more than $10 billion in revenue in 2008. Jon has personally donated more than $228 million to building a hospital of hope and research for cancer patients. His goal is to die broke. He freely gives to charity now on a regular basis and at his death, all his net worth will go to others.

What stood out to me in this interview, was Jon’s thoughts on integrity and honor. He has literally built his business on handshake ethics. Glenn Beck asked him to tell the story of when he was selling a portion of his business to great Lakes Chemical in 1985. Jon related that he had struck a deal with the owner of great Lakes for $54 million. it took the attorneys six months to get the paper work, etc. done. Over the course of that 6 months Jon’s company had done well and revenues had increased by five-fold. when final papers were ready to be signed, the owner of great Lakes came to Jon and said he realized that his company was now worth much more than it was at the initial time of agreement and suggested they renegotiate a higher price. Jon Huntsman looked at him and said, My handshake is my word. We agreed to $54 million and that is all I am expecting.

Jon went on to say in that interview, Each human being has a ‘moral compass’, whether we call it the Holy Ghost, moral compass or spirit of God, it’s a system that says ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong’. If we can’t be men and women of integrity and honor and live with ourselves. then we are not a very good example of the human race .

WOW That pretty well sums it up. as Winston Churchhill said, with integrity, nothing else matters. without integrity, nothing else matters.

So, what does leadership mean for you? it isn’t likely any of us here will lead a country like Winston Churchill or even start a huge company like Jon Huntsman. But we all have our own corner, or niche – That thing, place, organization, or group of people that we have a vision and a heart for that we can help to become, change and grow.

The question we must each ask ourselves is, What is my vision, where is my place, and how will I ‘Make a Difference’ (in my world)?

I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back soon
Kathy Alger

Principles of Leadership – Skills & Servanthood – Part 3

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