Today’s Coffee of Choice: Starbucks Salted Mocha, sipped over conversation with a friend (and someone I’m responsible for leading) who needed to talk
Today’s Scripture: Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. – Proverbs 11:14
In the United States, our eyes were on the nation’s leader today. The public ceremony of the inauguration of the President made headline after headline anywhere you turned. Though I have been mulling over the topic of leadership for quite some time, it seemed appropriate to sit down this evening and kick off my focus on leaders (and what they have written) over the next couple of weeks.
We are most familiar with a nation as something that houses government and politics. If you stretch the definition of a nation, however, you may find yourself a leader of a small one. A blog audience, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or any group you facilitate which stretches the boundaries of race and background can loosely be defined as a nation. Each has its own way of operating and a certain structure and order. I also believe each requires a certain sense of responsibility.
Nation: A community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government. – taken from Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
My focus over the next several weeks will be on leading well no matter what the group you lead looks like. Admittedly, I am not as qualified as those I will feature in my upcoming Coffee Talks, but I do have over ten years of experience in different levels of local and regional leadership within various organizations. I also have an insane thirst for reading leadership material. Though I’m far from perfect in my own example, it is my hope that, whether you’re a writer looking to brush up on the necessary leadership skills required in today’s professional writing industry or someone who just wants to learn more about being an effective leader serving your local community and church, you will benefit from the thoughts and discussion presented in this mini-series.
Let me kick it off by highlighting what I call the Five Cs of Leadership. These are not original to my often overactive brain. I borrowed them from John Maxwell and his book entitled The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Maxwell, along with John Wooden, is one of the two modern voices I turn to consistently for leadership advice. Since I can’t usually remember all of his concepts, and these are the five which I’ve found to be most impactful in my own leadership journey, I’ll highlight them. My thoughts below are loosely based on what is presented in the book, but I’ve taken some personal liberties with them as well.
A good leader maintains:
1. Character- Having strong character means being who you say you are and doing what you say you’ll do. As Maxwell says in his book, “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.” I’m big on making good choices. Granted, nobody is perfect and everyone, including the best leaders, can fall short of goals. However, those who follow you will know whether you are genuine or not. Choose integrity for you and your group’s sake. Don’t gossip about those you lead, don’t live a double life, and don’t lead from a place of past rejection. Lead from a place of love and honest commitment to those you serve. I also recommend a focus on Biblical character mixed with an insane sense of humor. You’ll need both to survive in today’s world. Look for more on that later.
2. Commitment- This is the number one area I see separating real leaders from those who are only interested in looking and sounding good. Follow-through will get you everywhere. Lip service might gain you numbers, but eventually broken promises will fail you and those you lead. Your group will not survive if you are not committed to it.
3. Communication- Effective communication also needs to happen for success to occur. Each individual within a group or organization is unique, as are their thoughts. A successful endeavor cannot be based on assumption. We are all wired a little differently and have individual perspectives. You cannot have a thriving group without each part of that group communicating their thoughts in a healthy way. Assumptions, and then conversations between only a few people in a group based on those assumptions, will only lead to failure for everyone involved. Obviously, no communication at all will also lead to failure.
4. Competence- “If you build it, they will come,” says Maxwell. It’s true. Most people only follow that which they see to be established and excellent. Practice the first three Cs, and you will achieve competence. Achieve competence, and people will start to notice and want to join in with what you are doing. If you’re interested in numbers (which I don’t recommend) you will probably need to wait for this process to happen over a period of months or years. Numbers do follow competence.
5. Courage- One person with a little bit of courage can lead more effectively than the most equipped person on the planet who doesn’t commit to leadership because they are afraid to. I always think of the story of Joshua and Jericho when I need motivated in this area. I also have a few people who inspire me many would probably consider to be dysfunctional and the worst people to be in leadership on the planet. Their sheer courage to overcome adversity motivates me every day. Be an inspiration to those you lead, and they will follow your example of courage.
Since it’s a Monday (and I like to give things away on Monday), if you are the first one to tell me where the semi-hidden giveaway offer exists on my website I will give you Maxwell’s book. I will also give you the giveaway you find… unless you are interested in donating back into my giveaway vault. In that case, I will be sure to communicate with you and report on where it ends up! Blessings to you as you lead wherever you have been planted!