Later today I take my last final exam of my KU career. The only thing left to accomplish is the writing of a Master’s Thesis–I’m planning on starting that project this summer and hope to bring it to completion this coming fall. In other personal news, I saw Elvis Costello and The Police at the Sprint Center last night. “Pump it up!”
A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee. Good book–not my favorite on leadership, but helpful nonetheless. The six leadership styles identified and explored in this book are:
The authors explore how each style of leadership affects the emotional climate in the organization, stating when each style might be appropriate, the type of impact, and how the implementation of each style may create resonance (or when used inappropriately, yield dissonance). The authors claim that by developing one’s emotional intelligence–or ability to tune in to the environmental/emotional sensitivity of the organization–leaders will learn to recognize when to emphasis one style of leadership over the others, resulting in increased resonance, positive growth, and long-term success.
Here is one particular quote that has relevance to my life experience:
The lessons people get in leadership start very early in life, observing from teachers, coaches, clergy–anyone who has been in the role of leader in their lives. These models offer the first scaffold for people’s own leadership habits, their original ideas for what a leaders does. Then, as they being to step into their first leadership roles in clubs, teams, student government, or as leaders in their peer groups, they put those models into practice. (Goleman, 154-55)
Over my lifetime I have been extremely fortunate to be in the presence of high level leaders. Here are a few lessons I learned as a result of exposure to family, friends, pastors, teachers, coaches, community leaders, professors, employers, coworkers, authors, and young people:
- Serve. There are countless people with countless needs who will be encountered each day. Do what you can to be of humble assistance. Service, done well, sets an example others can follow.
- Listen. Sometimes the greatest service you can provide someone is to give a listening ear. Learning someone’s story, asking about their dreams, and being a sounding board all build leadership capital. Listening also enables the leader to best discern direction, taking into account the desire of the people when charting a course.
- Learn. Leaders are learners. If you’re not learning, you’re not leading. I saw this most in two men–Robert L. Reid and Howard Hendricks, both teachers. These men were constantly learning, and ignited a passion in my heart for study.
- Be bold in casting vision. Listen, I’m a scholar and a churchman. Many of my lessons for leadership have come within the context of the church–either through ancient discourse or through participation in vibrant Christian communities. Whether you’re casting vision for evangelism, discipleship, healthy community, justice, or passionate and engaging worship, paint a picture of the future that is compelling and palatable. God has given us all the resources we need–in fact, we have been given an abundance (Wells, God’s Companions).
- Embody your values. What do you value? Make a list. Now, if you asked someone in your organization, would they say those things accurately describe you? I’ve been around leaders who have done this well, others who have not.
- Pray. It was Mother Teresa who remarked, “Everything starts from prayer.” This is sage wisdom in a culture of self dependency.
- Surround yourself with driven and creative people. Who are people in your life who push you, challenge you, share similar values, and lift you up when you are down? Identify people in your church, community, or organization whom you can see as partners in a joint effort, and spur one another on to greater things.
- Encourage. The world is a difficult place to live. When you see someone do something good, tell them! Lift them up! When you see someone who is down, let them know you’ll walk alongside them. Encouragement can go a long way.
- Say thanks. You would almost hope that this would go without saying, but the best leaders I have been around have all known how to express gratitude. They write notes, recognize people publicly, give gifts, and make people feel appreciated.
- Put important things in writing. Weird leadership principle? May seem so, but writing things down helps us to crystallize our ideas. It helps us determine next steps and put together a plan to move toward our goals.
These are just a few things I’ve learned about leadership through the people I’ve been exposed to. I didn’t learn these lessons all at once, and I didn’t learn them all consciously. Some have had to be developed through the years.
What important leadership lessons have you learned, and how have you learned them?