One of the things that I am very passionate about (apart from Jesus, my wife, motorcycles, Manchester United and coffee) is leadership. While I don't consider myself a guru in this area, but having been involved in different areas of leadership for almost 10 years - I'd like to think I know a thing or two about it. My leadership journey consists of different levels: leading small groups of 10 people to eventually multiplying after hitting 30 members, growing a ministry from 100-120 to 250-300 with 60 volunteer leaders and to now being in a staff development committee for approximately 60 full time employees.
Some of these principles I am sharing will be more applicable in a Church/Ministry setting, but most of them are relevant to any form of leadership/management context. Leadership, after all is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8) exercised by many characters in the bible (including Jesus Himself) and I would even argue that some of the best leaders in the world are in the Church - because they have the challenge of mobilising unpaid volunteers!
I've got a lot to say about leadership, and I will do so over a few parts. I wanted to put it all down in just this one article but realised I have too much to say... but hey it is my space - so if you're interested here is part one:
Personality, Gifting And Talent IMPRESSES People But Only Character, Integrity And Authenticity Can Truly IMPACT Them.
If you truly want to leave a positive, lasting impression on people as a leader - it is going to take more than just showing how good you are (although you do still need to develop certain skills to gain credibility). But that's the good news: anyone can learn new skills, but it takes a lot of intentionality to work on our character (which not many people do) and vulnerability to be authentic with those whom we lead. Character is not your personality (shy or outgoing, loud or not); it is what determines the choices you make everyday: your work ethic, the way you treat others, the way you handle challenges, how you speak to people etc.
Authenticity I would classify as genuinely being passionate about what you do and the people that you lead. Believe in what you do, find the significance in it. If you are in a school/university club or department in a company/business see it as an opportunity to impact people. The saying goes: people don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care. Leadership is messy. Get your hands dirty. Get close to those you lead. Don't just see those as tools to be used but as people to be developed. Share your failures and struggles - sometimes it goes a longer way than blowing your own trumpet. Here's another thing: if you made a mistake, admit it and apologise to them. Trust me, they won't respect you less for it but rather MORE because of you did!
People "buy into" persons more than plans, vision, systems or organisations. Show those around you that you are worth following and you will get their support.
Be Personal, But Don't Take It Personally
Oh get this one right, and you would be miles ahead of so many other people! What do I mean by this? Be personal in all your interactions with people. Show warmth, display good manners, always try to extend grace. Make people feel valued, like you are genuinely interested in them (and not just what they can do for you). Encourage and appreciate them, get into their world whenever possible - all these little things go a long way.
But if people do not respond the way you expect them to ... don't take it personally! Don't take things to heart - it will quickly cause you to lose steam as a leader. People are complex. They are not like mathematics, where if I apply a certain formula to a certain equation I should get a certain result. We do not always get the outcome we expect with people and it is very normal. Everybody has their own battles to fight, and sometimes we don't really know what is really going on with them. Sometimes people need time, so be patient with them.
If people criticise you or disagree with you... don't take it personally and be personal in the way you respond to them! Nothing causes a leader to lose "buy-in" faster than reacting extremely insecurely to criticism or someone disagreeing with them.
If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go With A Team
You know what I used to really hate back when I was still a student? Group projects. It is difficult to get an assignment done when you got so many people involved, particularly if you got non-contributing or absentee members (and then only one or two ends up doing all the work)! Doing things solo is definitely less complicated but a good leader knows the power of a team.
A team is only effective when it has a good leader. So what must a good leader do? You must trust your team. Trust that they can get the job done. This is first and foremost. If you do not have faith in your team it will show in the way you treat them - and they will know it too. If they need guidance - give it to them, but don't over micromanage. It is very frustrating for both them and you. If they can get the job done but not in the way you expected - it's ok! If they found an even better way to do it than you originally proposed - applaud them!
Learn conflict management - this will minimise politics and gossip, which can develop into a toxic culture and kill morale and productivity. Learn how to work with and manage different personalities - recognise that different people have different personalities and work with their strengths. Only address character issues, don't try to change personalities.
When the right time comes, don't just delegate tasks - delegate authourity. In that way, you are not just producing doers but more leaders. If you just produce doers, you can keep your thing running. But if you produce more leaders... what you are doing will naturally grow.
This is simply the first part, and I have more to share. I love discussing leadership and would love to help any who would want it - send me an email or tweet me!