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Thoughts on Leadership

"Eagles don't flock - you have to find them one at a time." -  H. Ross Perot

Leadership is a skill and not everyone has developed it. In fact, it  is somewhat rare. There are qualities of leadership that are not present in every person. Among them, is the ability to divorce oneself from the need for  credit for our accomplishments.

Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant  was, by anyone's description, a model leader. He explained his leadership style this way:

I'm just a plow hand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together. How to lift some men up, how to calm down others, until finally they've got one heartbeat together, a team. There's just three things I'd ever say:

1. If anything goes bad, I did it.

2. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it.

3. If anything goes real good, then you did it.

That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you.

Paul,  in Romans 12,speaking of people's giftedness said, " ... if it is leadership, let him govern diligently."

Part of the diligence involved in leadership is setting the tone and creating the atmosphere where people work together as a team without regard for who gets the credit. This takes extra effort and extraordinary ability, but it marks great leadership and produces positive and lasting results.

If it is real leadership, then there will be enthusiasm in the ranks. Real leadership not only shares the rewards for accomplishments of the team, but is willing to give them away, lock, stock and barrel. As two great leaders said,

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." -  Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."  - Sam Walton

And that sums up the attitude of a great leader. A leader by position, namely a boss, is not necessarily a true leader.

"The boss drives people; the leader coaches them. The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says "I"; The leader says "WE". The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss says, "GO"; the leader says "LET'S GO!"  - H. Gordon Selfridge

The leader is a servant of the people he or she leads. The leader is devoted to the task, but equally devoted to the team. It is their success that gets the leader up in the morning with enthusiasm.

At the same time, a great leader must often stand alone in that utterly lonely place of being the only one to first grasp the great idea. The leader must embrace it, develop it, sell it,  facilitate it, and then step away from it and let the team bring it to completion.

The loneliness of leadership is described as,

"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." - James Crook

The reward may also be lonely because he has humbly stepped out of the limelight. He has set the stage for others to take the bows.

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."  - Theodore Roosevelt

If one is involved in solo work, that is one thing, but if it is developing people, creating movements, building legacies, and inspiring real change in the world, it can never be accomplished alone. One solitary individual can be a catalyst, but in the end, the catalyst will disappear and the movement will continue with many faces.

If the leader is impassioned about the cause and the people, this will not matter much.

When we lead effectively, we follow the greatest example of selfless and sacrificial leadership in history, Jesus Christ. He is our example and our standard.

Furthermore, He who did not seek praise and glory, except through the cross, received it and shall receive it eternally. He has invited those who will follow Him in leadership to share in His blessings - and that is enough.

Revelation 7:17
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."