While I was preaching one time, I accidentally made a funny statement that my congregants will never let me forget. I made the profound statement, “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be hard!” Yes, I know, such tremendous wisdom in that statement. What I meant to say was, “If it was easy, everyone would do it,” but somehow those words did not come out of my mouth. The truth is, easy things are, well, easy, and if they weren’t easy, well, they would be hard.
This is the case with leadership. If leadership were easy, it wouldn’t be hard. In other words, leadership is not for the faint of heart and not everyone is a leader or can handle leadership. As I have been reflecting on leadership, there are ten things that mark true leaders:
First, leaders lead from the heart. A quality of every leader is that they have a passion to make a difference. True leaders take action and action comes from within.
Second, leaders see the big picture. One of the great differences between a leader and a follower comes down to how they see things. Leaders do not have the luxury of looking at things from one dimension. Leaders have to have vision, and vision comes from seeing the big picture.
Third, leaders surround themselves with people who compliment their weaknesses. All great leaders are aware of their shortcomings, and seek to not only make their weaknesses stronger, but also surround themselves with people who make them better. True leadership is never a one-man show, but rather the collective brilliance of a team.
Fourth, leaders do not compromise their integrity. Leaders lead with character and integrity. There might be shortcuts to the top, but if moral compromises are made to get there, it will be a short-lived mountain top experience. There is no substitute for integrity, and true leaders understand and live by that reality.
Fifth, leaders have thick skin. It is true that if you wear your feelings on your sleeve, you will never make it in leadership. Leaders must have passion, but cannot let their feelings dictate their responses to people or situations. True leaders will never make everyone happy, and understand that criticism and attack will always come with the territory.
Sixth, leaders make good and tough decisions. At the end of the day, someone has to make a decision. Leaders are not afraid to make decisions, or live with the consequences of their decisions. True leaders are not “off-the-cuff” gunslinger decision-makers, but rather make sound decisions that may not be the most popular, but are best for everyone involved.
Seventh, leaders train up other leaders. One of the best markers of a true leader is that they are always looking to duplicate themselves. True leaders make other leaders. The success of any organization should not die when a leader dies, rather, it should flourish because of all the other leaders that have been trained. A leader’s legacy is best seen by his influence on future leaders.
Eighth, leaders are self-motivated. No one has to motivate leaders. Leaders push themselves to be the best they can be. True leaders wake up looking for opportunities and seize them as they come forth.
Ninth, leaders do not quit leading. Much of leadership is about sheer endurance. It is one thing to have a vision, and a completely different thing to see a vision to completion. When everyone else wants to quit, a leader perseveres. When others only see impossibilities, leaders find a way. Leaders press on no matter what.
Tenth, leaders are servants and filled with compassion for those they lead. The greatest leader of all time was the Lord Jesus Christ. He poured His life into a small group of men who changed the world. Jesus was a leader, but He was also a servant and cares deeply for those He led. The best leaders in the world are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Leaders serve and make a difference as they lead by example. True leaders do not seek power, they seek to serve, and as they serve, they make a profound difference in the lives of those around them. Humility and service go hand in hand. Pride is often the deathnail of many in leadership. As the Scripture says, “Pride goes before a fall.” True leaders are humble servants who have genuine compassion for people.
This week, seek to be a leader! There are plenty of followers in this world, and what is needed is leadership. Be one who leads from the heart and who leads by example.