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Sunday
Jan052014

Five Essentials To Becoming An Excellent Leader

1. It Is Essential That We Are Flexible:

Things change fast these days…real fast! Yesterday’s home runs won’t win today’s ball games. What worked last year--or even last month--might not work anymore. As leaders we need to be ready to change, to adapt, to give up old ways of doing things, old ways of thinking about things. We need to be careful of the “Hardening of the Categories,” as Howard Hendricks said. We need flexibility in our thinking, in our practices, in our schedules and in our priorities. This is the biggest challenge for me personally as I like ruts and routines and feel uncomfortable with lots of changes coming quickly. 

2. It Is Essential That We Are Teachable:

We should stick firmly to our values, but be open and teachable to trying new methods of building in those values and reaching agreed-upon goals. One of my favorite verses on this is in the Living Bible, “And you say, Oh, if only I had listened! If only I had not demanded my own way! Oh, why wouldn’t I take advice? Why was I so stupid.” Proverbs 5:12-13.  It was John Wooden who said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” I need to keep learning, keep asking questions, keep seeing things from other angles and from other people’s point of view. Even at 74 I am still learning, still asking questions, still open to new ideas that challenge my current thinking and practices.

3. It Is Essential That We Build Teams:

Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Daniel Boone make for great books, movies and folklore, but today most things are accomplished in teams. Even in grade school, children work on projects together in a team context. In successful companies, it is all about togetherness and building collaborative teams to reach company goals. Getting along is the key to getting it done and the leaders who can’t build and operate in teams will eventually plateau or get left behind.

4. It Is Essential That We Think Beyond Today:

Leaders are all about the future. A true leader sees a better tomorrow and takes people there. It is a balancing act to focus on what is at hand while, at the same time, looking into the future and setting plans to take people there. On a regular basis, time needs to be set aside (and protected) to think, pray and plan with the future in mind. It is so easy to let the here and now trump the then and there. At their core, leaders are visionaries and need time and space to look through the telescope into the distance and rally people around what they see.

5. It Is Essential That We Give Credit For Successes And Assume Responsibility For Failures:

When we fail I need to take responsibility. And when we succeed I need to say, “You did it.” Too many leaders take credit for what others have done and are doing and are quick to blame others when things don’t turn out well. Secure leaders enjoy making their teammates look good and insecure leaders enjoy making themselves look good and, in the process, make their teammates feel bad. Nothing is as dangerous as an insecure leader who always needs to be center stage and the center of attention. True biblical leadership is about the glory of God and the good of the team.

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