I recently read an article in the Birmingham Business Journal written by Billy Arcement entitled, “What Great Leaders have in Common”. It succinctly illustrates many of the principles contained in exceptional business books like Jim Collins Good to Great, and Patrick Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player. The traits mentioned will enhance our leadership style and further our careers. Even more importantly it will deepen relationships across the spectrum in our families, businesses, communities, and friends.
A. Stay humble. You are not as important or indispensable as you think you are. Dwight D. Eisenhower began carrying around an anonymous little poem:
“Take a bucket, fill it with water,
Put your hand in–clear up to the wrist.
Now pull it out; the whole that remains
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed…”
“The moral of this quaint example:
To do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There is no indispensable Man!”
The Power of a Humble Life pg. 68
Arcement mentioned many examples of humility in his article; one being the former President of the United States, Gerald Ford. When he and some other business leaders met Ford at the airport he said, “You fellows didn’t have to go to all this trouble for me.”
Personally, humility is one of the traits that I most admire. It is a recurring principle in the Scriptures as an evidence of our walk with Christ.
B. Learn to listen and listen to learn. When you are in a significant leadership position, many people will only tell you what you want to hear. You need people you can count on to tell you what you need to hear. The greatest leaders find out early in their life what they do know and don’t know.
I was having lunch with a retired director of 140,000 people this week. He made the statement “You need to listen to your people”. He recalled to me where a person under his supervision helped him to retain a major customer and gain ground on his competition.
C. Define who you are. Let everyone know you are principled and live by unshakable values. In our case, we need to raise the Christian flag early. That way people are clear on your stance. The hard part is now you must live by those values, or be labeled a hypocrite or worse. There is a built-in accountability, but it also gives you opportunities to share your faith or even ask forgiveness.
Not everyone can lead well. Not everyone embraces the challenge. But I propose we all are being watched by someone. Whether it is a child, an employee, a co-worker, friend, spouse or fellow believer. As a Christian we have a target on our backs. We also have a cross to carry. Let’s boldly follow our Savior and lead well by the power of His Spirit.