The world needs leaders. What I really mean when I say that is the world needs risk-taking servants…people who take it upon themselves to risk themselves, to try new things, to care more about other people than they do about themselves, and to spend themselves on other people.
In their book The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner write about the five areas which establish leaders and in which when they are invested on a heart level, they maximize their influence. They claim that although some people do these naturally, every person has the capacity to develop the skills and character to reach greater levels of effectiveness. Here’s the five things they mention, along with some personal questions I’m asking myself…
1. Leaders are at their best when they challenge the process. There is a quote in this book that has bothered me for like 4 years now:
“leaders must constantly challenge the process precisely because any system will unconsciously conspire to maintain the status quo and prevent change.”
Leaders are change agents who monitor for progress, who push for excellence, and who are never satisfied to stay the same. Am I respectfully challenging the process wherever I’m at? Am I working hard at serving those around me and pushing myself and others towards excellence? Or am I content with staying the same and not moving towards anything? Am I setting personal goals? Am I helping others achieve their goals?
2. Leaders inspire a shared vision. They appeal to other people’s values, interests, hopes and dreams in order to communicate a picture of the future that is unique and ideal. Am I in tune with what people around me value? Am I helping the teenagers around me have a clear picture of the type of men and women they want to become? Am I dreaming about the future and seeking to find creative ways of inspiring others about where we all hope to be?
3. Leaders enable others to act. This involves promoting cooperative goals, seeking integrative solutions and building trusting relationships. Am I working hard to build trust with people around me? Am I strengthening people by empowering them?
4. Leaders model the way. They DWTSTWD. They do what they say they will do. This involves clarifying personal values, unifying people around shared values, and paying close attention to how self and others are living the values. This involves two things: consistency and “wins” that promote progress. Am I a man of integrity? Do I follow-through with my commitments? Am I aware of my values? Have I done the hard work of clarifying those values?
5. Leaders encourage the hearts of constituents. They build confidence through high expectations and connect rewards with high performance. Am I celebrating the successes of others around me? Am I rewarding and encouraging people for the good things they are doing?
I’m not going to pretend that just because I wrote this post that I am a good leader. I’m working on these things. In fact, some of them I do really poorly. But I’m driven by a belief that the world needs people of integrity and discipline with a desire to serve and risk on behalf of others, and to maximize their effectiveness by faithfully stewarding the influence that God has given them. I want to be that kind of man.
Which of these do you do well? Which area could you develop in?