You are a leader.
I have a simple philosophy about leadership. You are a leader. Everyone is a leader.
I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you do in life. I don’t care where you’ve come from or where you are heading. You are a leader.
You may be a mom leading a household. You might be a teacher leading a classroom. You may be a volunteer leading a program. You could be a friend leading other friends. You might have an employee or two under you at work. You could be managing an entire division or corporation.
You are a leader.
The question is not are you a leader. The question is are you a good leader.
The 3 L’s of leadership
My job (leading the ministries at our church – children, youth, women, men, outreach, etc) can be summed up in this nutshell. I lead leaders. If I am successful, I am training, equipping and releasing men and women to do the things they feel they are called to do.
In each situation, leading looks different. Leading a class of 2 year olds is not the same as directing a women’s small group. How I train, equip and release looks different in every case.
However, there are three things that are integral to leading – no matter who you are or what you are leading. They are the 3 L’s of leadership.
Lead to Listen
As a leader, it is so easy to get wrapped up in your own plan. You’ve thought it out. You have your reasons – good if not great ones. But good leaders listen to the people they lead.
Our church is multiplying to two services in August. Great news…we’re growing! Wait a second, this means we need to double everything we do on a Sunday morning – music, children, coffee shop, ushers, greeters and on and on.
Specifically, I’m concerned about children’s ministry, so I developed a plan. No, I created a great plan (of course, I say this tongue in cheek because I know some of my team is reading this and checking up on me!).
I took my plan to my team, and they poked holes in it – good holes, holes I missed. I intentionally took it to them and listened. Then I took my plan and reworked it. My good plan became better.
Here’s the real benefit. I gained a little more of their trust. They know I have a plan, but I also have their back.
It never happens if I don’t listen.
Good leaders listen to their team (or family).
Lead to Look
As a father, I’m leading young women and young men to lead. Sometimes I lead from out front, but other times I lead from behind. I let them lead. I let them make decisions – good or bad – for their lives.
Because I have the benefit of life experience they don’t have, I can see the future more clearly than they can. Though I am letting them make decisions, I also give them advice and suggestions on what their future looks like with that decision in mind.
This also applies to the people I lead in ministry. Sometimes I have more experience than them, other times I simply have the gift for strategy and arranging according to my Strengths Finder test (link). This means I can plot out ahead and put the pieces of the plot puzzle in the right order.
Those are just my gifts. We all have gifts to help us look and see those we are leading. Then we can use this information to give advice, guide and direct them appropriately.
Good leaders look ahead for the people they lead.
Lead to Last
Okay, so this one is really commit, but I needed a good ‘L’ word.
Commitment is something I’m learning more fully as I age and become wiser. I realize, now more than ever, leadership is a long-term investment. In my first two opportunities to lead in paid positions, I ran when things got hard. I couldn’t see it then, but it’s so clear now.
My lack of commitment had a larger effect. Who suffered the most wasn’t me, but the people I was leading. They were counting on me, and I bailed. Thankfully, other people stepped in and filled the void, but it doesn’t discount my mistakes.
Over the last 5-10 years, I’m learning what it means to lead to last. I’m learning to stick out difficult situations until I know without a shadow of a doubt it’s time to step away – which will be good for everyone involved.
This is what leading is really about. Leading is not about a position. Leading is for the sake of people.
Good leaders commit to the long-term.
You are a leader.
Like it or not, you are a leader. So start with these L’s, and lead well. People need you!