The Lost Art of Leadership

Integrity, humility, kindness, support and fairness – These are just a few words that describe leadership. An effective leader accomplishes the organizational goals, while developing the people. It produces more leaders and optimal results with minimal frustration. This particular topic given in this volume is through biblically based model which illustrates how both the people and the organization wins. The Lost Art of Leadership explains not only the principles, but also the mechanics and techniques of effective leadership.

Leadership is a delicately balanced combination of developing people and accomplishing goals. Developing the people of the organization is now the new proven path to reaching goals, meeting deadlines and fulfilling dreams in our busy world. Great leaders understand that developing people is the ultimate key to productivity with peace. An investment in the person pays off with every task while investing in the task only pays off one time.

Effective leadership is the result of careful planning, through training and conscious determination and effort. It hinges on understanding and achieving balance between two critical factors: developing people and accomplishing goals. Any organization that fails to develop people neglects its most important resource. At the same time, an organization that fails to accomplish its goals negates its very reason for existing. Developing people and accomplishing goals go hand and hand. What’s the purpose of developing people if they have no goals to strive for? Conversely, how can any organization accomplish goals without trained, developed people to do the work? Proper attention to the development of people virtually guarantee the accomplishment of goals because everyone will then be “on the same page” regarding the organization’s philosophy and mission. At the same time , when the balance is in place, the need to accomplish goals will drive and guide the creation of an appropriate plan and process for developing people.

The foundation is the most important part of a house. Without a good foundation, a house will fall. It is not a question of if it will fall; it is simply a question of when it will fall. Likewise, the effective leader who will endure time and temptation must build an effective foundation for life, family and profession, whether in business, ministry, political office or any other environment that calls for leadership. Every day leaders everywhere must deal with people who have problems. Life is a training ground and the only real preparation for leadership. Anybody can learn leadership principles, but only those who have developed the character of leadership can apply them effectively. True leadership is a product more of who we are than what we do. When what we do is the product of who we are, it flows out of our heart effortlessly. Whatever is in you’re heart will come out in your leadership.

If you go to the bookstore and look in the business management section under Leadership, you will find book after book after book listing the skill or skills that a leader must possess in order to be successful. There must be hundreds of books extolling some virtue or set of virtues as being the definitive answer to the age old question, “What are the skills one must possess to be a good leader.” Well, if one of those books is actually right, then it follows that there are hundreds of others that are wrong. Too bad for those authors!!!

The truth is that there are actually hundreds that are right! These books are lists of skills that have worked for someone, at some time, in some situation. They are all good skills and they are all right. There are hundreds of skills that a leader must have at their disposal in order to handle all the situations they will face. However, any one of those skills can also be wrong depending on the situation, and how and when you use them.

The requirements of a leader are not fixed. By definition, leading means going first and getting others to follow. By going first you are facing new challenges, obstacles, threats and opportunities. It is highly improbable that a fixed set of skills that worked for someone at some time in some situation will work for you in an entirely new situation. It is like a tool box. If you have a tool box with wrenches, a pipe-cutter and soldering equipment which you used for some plumbing work, and you take that tool box to a job where they ask you to repair the roof, you will be ill-equipped to handle the job. The box may be full of good tools, but those tools may not be the right ones for the job you have to do. The same is true with leadership. If you have a specific set of skills, and you try to handle every problem with those skills, you will surely be ill-equipped for some of the challenges you will face.

A leader’s ability to face those challenges and achieve business success or reach greatness with the Kingdom of God lies in the support and motivation of the people he or she is leading. Earning that support and motivating people to achieve the goals and objectives of your vision requires understanding and meeting their needs, within the context of the vision goals and objectives, of course. Those needs will change from one situation to the next. Therefore, it follows that the tool box for leaders needs to be a process, not a specific set of skills. It needs to be a way of thinking. It needs to be a way of looking at situations, determining the needs of your constituents, and determining what actions you need to take and what skills you need to employ to meet those needs.

As a leader though, it really does speak to the fact that we must “walk our own talk” if we expect others to support the changes we are trying to make in an organization. That means that we must believe in all aspects of the change that we are trying to effect. However, at times I think leaders may be too quick to compromise away some of their core beliefs in order to get to an agreement. They seem to do so almost unknowingly… perhaps not recognizing the danger that lies in front of them by doing so. That danger is that at some point they will violate those norms because they do not truly believe in them. When they violate them, they lose all credibility for the change they are trying to make.

God has a master plan for reaching and transforming a lost world. Jesus came with the purpose of reclaiming the world with the Gospel. His plan is simple and profound – take twelve ordinary men, give them three years of training through association with Him, observing and obeying and send them out equipped with the Word, prayer and the Holy Spirit to reproduce disciples. That is the Lord’s program, and it is reaching the world today. Jesus could have made a play for the masses and sought to usher in the Kingdom by popular acclaim. The early days of His ministry sought great multitudes drawn to Him. (Mark 1:28,33,45,4:1) Yet He discouraged mass movements, downplayed Himself publicly, revealing Himself to His disciples and those who believed instead of the religious leaders, political powers and the masses of the curious. Those who had messianic expectations were disappointed – He made no effort to raise up a following, seize power, overthrow Rome. In fact He made demands in His preaching that turned away many and alienated the establishment. His plan tested on the few men He had chosen.

The Lord knew that quality of discipleship and not quantity of disciples was more important. Before the masses could be reached and taught and ministered there must be leadership to minister. One man cannot carry the load of the whole world – first a foundation must be laid. Jesus concentrated on His disciples for good reasons. Disciples – not converts – was His goal. The wisdom and strength of His methodology stands out. He chose those who were teachable, and devoted Himself to them. He established a relationship based on commitment to Him on their parts, and His commitment to them on His part. He showed them how, then sent them out to learn by doing, using their successes and failures to make them into men able to do what He was doing with them – reproducing. The New Testament reveals that these principles became the pattern for the early church. We find Paul using them in His missionary work – residing in a city just long enough to reproduce leadership for a new church, then returning periodically. He urges Timothy to make disciplers (2 Tim 2:2). There is Apollos, mighty in the church, discipled by Aquila and Priscilla, disciples of the disciple of Barnabas: Paul. There is Mark whom Paul gave up on, whom Peter succeeded with – the author of the first of the Gospels to be written. Titus, Luke, etc – the New Testament abounds with the evidence that Jesus’ program of discipleship has been passed on to the church.

In conclusion, effective leadership hangs on the twin pillars of synchronicity – everyone working together in smooth, clock-like fashion – and shared vision – everyone working for the same goal. Successful leaders know how to achieve both. As leaders we have the opportunity to touch many people… to effect the lives of many. It is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. How we manage our own behavior… our own actions… often effect people in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. It is important that we not be careless in making those choices.

We must be wired for success, not programmed for failure!