Many people have authority over me – but are they leaders? Are they showing effective leadership?
Some people try to take authority over me – to lead me, or to try to make me a follower, or fan.
Authority and leadership are two vastly different things.
The Meriam-Webster Dictionary definition on this narrow interpretation of authority…”The power to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.”
This would accurately describe many people we encounter under the guise of leadership. Currently Australia is approaching a federal election. Candidates for office want the leader’s position. Do they want to run the country – or do they want authority. Sadly, from what I see – and it is only a small part of the picture… from news items and unavoidable advertisements, the majority of people seeking public office are obsessed with self, and their own promotion.
That’s not a leader. At least not in the area of effective leadership.
What is effective leadership?
Someone who cares for the people he leads, someone who finds ways to make it easier for them to achieve their goals. Sound unrealistic? Probably is in this day and age – but there are still some people like that around.
A memory from my childhood comes to mind – seeing sheep being moved to another field. The shepherd followed them. His dogs ‘worked’ them to the gate and along the lane. So who was the shepherd? The shepherd had the authority, he had trained his dogs, but if you look at the principle that leaders are the ones who ‘go first’, who make sure there are no dangers or obstacles in the way – I guess one of the sheep was the leader.
Contrast that with – “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
John 10: 27 (Berean Study Bible).
Did you ‘catch’ the last phrase? – “and they follow Me.”
Guess that means that Jesus, the Leader, leads. He goes first, making the way safe.
So – an effective leader…
- Inspires others
- Serves the people he is responsible for
- Creates an environment where trust can grow
- Takes care of the people in his or her charge
And, like Jesus and His faithful followers –
- Puts the lives of others before his or her needs.
Leadership is service.
A leader can be a mother, or father, a husband or wife, neighbor to a widow or widower.
You don’t have to be the person in charge of a large company, or group… wherever you are, you can lead.
Take an interest in those around you, visit your neighbor, email the person you are too far away to visit, give some of your time to make a phone call.
If you want to be an effective leader, start with the small ways you can demonstrate care. In time it will become a habit, and when you do end up with responsibility for the people in your charge – caring, creating an environment of trust, and being respected by those in your care will happen.
A good leader will make a positive impact on someone else’s life. Aim for that!
I chose the featured image along the top because it suggests the leader is encouraging those behind, not marching on to be first.