Financial Matters

5 Principles for Following and Leading

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Leadership is a very popular term these days. It is used in so many ways and in numerous fields of endeavor: Leader of the free world; servant leader; team leader, leadership coach; etc. We have school leaders, church leaders, community leaders, worship leaders, organizational leaders, One can even earn advanced degrees in leadership. Leadership is a necessity. Leadership is a privilege. Leadership is an honor. Some say leadership is a calling. Others say leadership can be taught. Still others say leadership must be caught. Whatever you say, or how ever you define leadership, you must admit, when it is not done well, it leaves a trail of carnage in lives of those it is supposed to protect and deliver to safety and success. We need good leaders. We need honest leaders. We need dependable leaders. We need capable leaders in every area of life.

One of the challenges people encounter when assuming leadership positions, is failing to remember that every leader should be a good follower. Simultaneously, every leader should be good for their followers. A leader

with no one following is just a person taking a walk. A follower with no one leading is lost in space. There must be something about your leadership that compels people to follow you. I believe it is your ability to follow that will enhance your capacity to lead. I have had the privilege to observe someone who excels in balancing the duality of leading and following. My pastor and mentor, Bishop P.A. Brooks serves as First Assistant Presiding Bishop of the Church Of God In Christ, an international organization of 6.5 million members. He also is founder and pastor of New St. Paul Tabernacle Church Of God In Christ in Detroit, Michigan. He has practiced the art of adhering to the leadership of his superior with the same level of discipline he expects from those who follow his leadership. I call that trustworthy leadership. The best leaders must practice what they expect. When you find a leader, who has not experienced or mastered the discipline of following, you may discover a person who will soon become a tyrant. When a person has not experienced what it takes to submit to the authority of another, Often, they cannot empathize with those from whom they are requiring submission. Thus, their expectations may become unreasonable. Being unreasonable is not a desired quality for an excellent leader.

Having served in numerous leadership capacities in corporate, non-profit, education and church arenas, I have come to believe there are at least 5 principles that will put you on the path to successful leadership. Although I have had extensive formal training in leadership science, I have gained my most profound insight on leadership from the scriptures. You will find parallel and complementary concepts to these principles in my book TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE: 10 Concepts to Consider.

1. Always operate according to the vision of your organization.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Pro 29:18
The first thing a successful leader must understand is the vision of the organization they lead. Before the leader can begin to cast his own vision for their administration, he must be clear about the vision of the organization they are leading. Without engaging in this important step, division is sure to follow. As you develop and cast your vision, because vision-casting is another popular term, be sure you are not creating any organizational conflict by creating an intent that is not congruent with the where the organization is intending to go. It doesn’t take anything away from your authority. Operating in harmony with the organization’s vision adds more authority to the administrative vision you want to cast.

2. Always operate according to the mission of your organization.

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. John 5:30
Jesus was being pressed about his leadership, but he was able to stand firm on what he was doing, because he was walking in the authority the mission he was authorized to undertake by God. How many times have we seen leaders get into great trouble, because they cannot justify what they are doing. It is not good to be a renegade leader. When you work in contrast to the mission of your organization, things may go fine for a while, but when trouble comes, the organization won’t be able to stand behind your decisions. If you want to be a leader who can be justified in troubled times, make certain you are clear about the authorized mission of your organization and operate according to that. Never allow yourself to be pressured or enchanted into doing things

that are outside the mission of your organization. Your organization has an identity and a purpose. Good leaders know how to stay in their lane. You can always be creative within the parameters of your authorized mission.

3. Always operate within the Core Values of your organization.

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. John 5:19
Every organization should have a set of core values, beliefs, or laws by which they operate. As a leader, it is incumbent upon you to make sure those core values are honored in all decisions and actions. Adherence to these core values will help you with every decision and strategy you endorse. In our text Jesus was letting his accusers know that he watched how his leader operated and he followed the same pattern. In other words, he stuck to the same principles of behavior. Whatever was important to God, became important to him. As a leader, when you embrace and uphold the core values of your organization with integrity, you can easily hold your

subordinates accountable to do the same. This helps you in your leadership, because your organizational expectations become fair and predictable. Everyone in the organization is held to the same standard of excellence, not according to your personality or several relationships, but based on the prescribed understanding and expectation of the organization.

4. Never let your position become your identity.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3
Some people long for leadership positions for the wrong reasons. Be careful, when you sense a desire to lead. It is in your best interest to be clear with yourself about why you want to be in a leadership position. Some people want to be the leader, because it looks cool. Others want to be in leadership, because they believe they are entitled to the position based on legacy, educational prowess, looks and a host of other dangerous excuses. When you take on leadership for reasons like these, you run the risk of believing the position itself is who you are. I challenge you to only accept leadership positions if you agree with the vision, mission and core values of the organization and are willing to serve that organization’s purpose from any position. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to positions of leadership. It is a good thing. However, we all have seen people who get into a leadership position and become too much. We also have seen people demoted from a leadership post and become adversarial toward even the mission of the organization.

5. Always be considerate of the people you lead and those who lead you.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
I am a strong believer in Robert K. Greenleaf’s concept of Servant Leadership. Apparently, Apostle Paul believed in the same concepts. Leaders must be mindful of the way they engage their followers. Prior to engaging their followers, it is a good idea to consider how you view those you lead. If your mindset causes you to think of them as less than you in any way, you are headed for trouble in your leadership. If we had time we could unpack this scripture and its subsequent verses to discover that the bottom line is realizing that everyone plays a different, important and necessary role. It doesn’t matter if you are in a prominent position or an obscure role in the

organization, everyone is important.

The best leaders can consider every person, regardless of position, through respect, compassion, honesty and support. Take these principles and use them to enhance your leadership. They will help you to become a better follower for the sake of those who lead you and a better leader for those who follow you.

I am a speaker, trainer and consultant. *KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Inspiring the Audience to embrace their charge. *WORKSHOP TRAINING: Effectively enhancing the skills of your staff. *CONSULTING SERVICES: Coaching and facilitating your planning and management efforts.

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