Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to be a Follower who Leads (Leadership Lessons from the Bible)

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Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:22-24, New International Version)

To begin, we need to do some basic verbiage updating: Slaves becomes followers and masters becomes leaders.  Good, now we are up to the modern day.

One characteristic of a true leader is that he or she stands out from the group.  No one ever became a leader by going along with the crowd… in fact, when young workers who have no leadership experience are assigned as leaders, one of the mistakes they often make is to try and fall in with the group they are leading.  When this happens, no one leads and everyone suffers!

The crowd, without leadership, is known for two time-honored, dishonorable work traditions: complaining and gossiping.  For this article, we will use Dave Ramsey’s definition of gossip: “Delivering negative information – any negative information about anyone or anything – to someone who cannot do something about it.

Since the crowd is known for complaining and gossiping, a follower who leads is known for giving honest & public praise for their leadership, and for addressing concerns & complaints directly to their leaders.

The crowd, without leadership, is known for doing their best work only when under the watchful eye of a supervisor… individual crowd members work their hardest only if there is something in it for them. 

The follower who leads does their best work regardless of supervision and without touting their own accomplishments.  Over time, their work ethic naturally encourages others to do the same.  He or she knows that, in due time, their work will be rewarded.  They do not strive for rewards, but instead realize that rewards are the natural byproduct of being a follower who leads.

The crowd, without leadership, is known for legalizing* everything they can… this gives them more things about which to complain and gossip!

The follower who leads follows lawful orders when given, and later offers suggestions for change and improvement to their superiors at a later time.
                  *Legalizing, in this context, refers to the practice of claiming that a decision or policy is in violation of a certain rule or rules, often twisting the context of the situation in such a way as to validate the argument.

The individual crowd member is neither an effective leader, nor a good follower.  They serve primarily to work with one leg while dragging the other as an anchor.

The follower who leads can be better described with one word: Leader.  Leadership requires no title, no authority, and no official accountability… it only requires you to step outside the crowd so you can inspire them and lead them!

The above is part of a series of blog posts entitled, “Leadership Lessons from the Bible.”


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