Whoever told you that being a leader is all fun and games – trust me, they totally lied to you.
Leadership can be an extremely lonely place, and for every single positive or good thing you do as a leader, there will always be someone who will find one or more things to counteract that positive or good thing that you did. It’s just the way it is. It will always be that way.
I consider myself a leader, but I tend to look at leadership a little different than most folks.
I believe each and every one of us is called to be a leader, in some shape, form or fashion.
The questions I usually ask myself, as it relates to leadership, consist of the following:
How have I been called to lead and who have I been called to lead?
Leadership is more about knowing yourself and knowing your purpose, than it is about merely having the role as a leader or the title of a leader.
It took me a minute to truly find out what my God-given purpose was in life, but I can honestly say that God revealed it to me, and has directed my path ever since.
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV) that I should: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I can honestly say that there have been many times where I didn’t know where to go and what to do with my life, but there have also been several times where I know, without a shadow of doubt, that God directed my path, and that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for His direction.
That is an aspect of leadership that can’t be taught by human beings, but it can be learned through having faith, trusting God and taking risks.
If you really want to be an effective leader, there are a few things you just gotta do.
First, you need to learn to listen to gain an understanding of the overall situation, before making a move or making a decision. Many times we make mistakes because we make moves and make decisions based off of impulse, rather than gathering all of the facts and using wisdom. Some of us make moves and make decisions, in the same way we go shopping – based on impulse.
Secondly, you need to learn to acknowledge the fact that your idea may not always be the best idea. Many times we are so hell-bent on being right and forcing our ideas on other people that we refuse to listen to others, and many times miss out on great ideas and wonderful opportunities that could have possibly improved our overall situation or put us in a better position.
Thirdly, as a leader you need to learn how to open up your mouth and effectively communicate with the people you either claim to lead or hope to lead. Many times, we assume the people we believe we are leading, fully understand our vision, or know exactly what we are thinking. That is so far from the case. We have to open up our mouths and say exactly what we are seeking to communicate, so as to avoid having things get misconstrued or misunderstood. The ball is in your court when it comes to effective communication; so if you find yourself always losing the support of people, or not getting the results you were intending, you might want to look in the mirror, because I can almost assure you that the problem is more than likely on your end.
Lastly, if you want to be an effective leader, you must learn to become a servant leader.
The Bible says in Matthew 23:11 (NIV): “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
We must learn to stop trying to do things that we consider to be great in our own eyes, or that we believe will get us the approval of others, and start focusing on serving the people we claim to lead or the organizations/communities we claim to serve. We must lead in a way that we are focused on doing a whole lot of small things in a great way, without worrying about whether or not we will get the credit for it. To me, that is the sign of an effective leader – being a servant leader.
As I said earlier, leadership can be a very lonely place, and leadership can also be a very painful experience. Nevertheless, those who seek to make their mark in this world must become a servant leader at some point in their lives, especially if they hope to leave a meaningful legacy.
We need to remember this equation when it comes to servant leadership and we will be fine:
Preparation + Opportunity = Success
We must always be prepared, so that when the right leadership opportunities arise, we will always be successful in what we do.
I’ve lived long enough now, and have had my fair share of let downs and disappointments in life, to have discovered that when God gives us a burden and a vision, it is our responsibility to carry out that vision and fulfill that burden even if we have to do it all by ourselves.
The Bible is full of examples of people who embraced leadership, even when it wasn’t popular and even when they didn’t always feel adequate. David slew Goliath; Moses confronted Pharaoh in Egypt; Noah built an ark; Nehemiah rebuilt the wall; Daniel faced the lions’ den; and Jesus paid the ultimate price. God never equips us with a burden or a vision, without ever providing the means to carry it through to the end. If you ever find yourself pressing and getting frustrated because things aren’t going your way, then you might be carrying out the wrong assignment or doing things for the wrong reasons. Each of us has a burden to carry and the vision God has placed inside of us must be carried out – even if it seems like you are all by yourself.
Leadership is often a lonely journey, and no one will ever become a great leader if they don’t have people following them.
So…what are you waiting on leader?
It’s time for you to Step Up to the Plate. If not you…then who will it be?
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.