The Cost of Leadership

So, you’ve been identified as “leadership material” and are being given an opportunity to “show your stuff” by assuming responsibility for leading a group of people. What does that mean, what does it entail, and what is required?

The dictionary defines a leader as “someone who acts as a guide”. The Bible says that the one who leads must be “servant of all”. Leadership, therefore, will always involve other people. For if there is no one to guide or no one to serve then no leader is required. In fact, if a leader has no followers, it is said that he/she is only taking a walk. The leader who sees people as machinery to be used for the accomplishment of a purpose will not “serve” them. The leader who only serves the needs of his followers and does not guide them toward a purpose fails to provide the followers with the shared experience of meaningful accomplishment. So, leadership calls for a balance of both “guide” and “servant”.

Effective leadership requires SACRIFICE. A leader must be willing to sacrifice his/her personal time to serve others. A leader must also be willing to sacrifice his/her personal agenda for the sake of the “mission” of the organization he/she leads.

Effective leadership requires COURAGE. It takes courage to stand in the way of anything that is diverting the group or organization from pursuing the stated purpose and to re-direct the energy of the group. It takes courage to say “I was wrong” when the inevitable mistakes are made. It requires courage to take the risks necessary to test and try new ideas in pursuit of the group or organization’s mission. It takes courage to confront a team member when they are not doing their part.

Effective leadership requires COMMUNICATION. To keep both those you lead and those to whom you are accountable abreast of where the group or organization is, where it is going and what adjustments are needed is critical for consensus and unity.

Effective leadership requires HUMILITY. The leader who is self-serving will become arrogant and isolated. An effective leader always remembers that he/she is a steward of the group or organization they lead. In other words, they have been entrusted with caring for what belongs to someone else. Effective leadership seeks the greater good; not that which serves the good of the leader alone.

Effective leadership requires TRUST. Followers must be able to count on the leader to do what he/she says they will do. If trust breaks down; when team members have doubts about the leader’s motives, they become skeptical and will not fully commit themselves to the group or organization’s mission.

As a leader, ask yourself this question: Do those who follow me do so because of inspiration or compensation?

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