What I don’t know about leading…

I am passionate about leadership, and leading.  Probably partly so that I will look good.  But there is a part of me that wants the organization, the team to run smoothly,  to overcome obstacles, to be united in our efforts.  To overcome.

In a lot of ways…this is all of life.

When I worked at the church, I learned a ton about leadership.  But I wasn’t particularly good at it.  For the first time I was aware of my many faults as a leader.  It was interesting to me though, that I learned more about leadership in 2 years of ministry than I did in 10 years in the Navy, at least I learned to put words to what I was lacking.  I think that is because as John Maxwell puts it, in ministry all you have is ‘the power of influence,’ no pay deductions, no disciplinary action, no rank degradations.

And so I am in the ‘Do…learn…Do’ model.  I ‘did’ leadership for 4 years or so in the Navy, then I learned about leadership (and did a little bit) in ministry, and now I have the opportunity to ‘do’ leadership again.

What is the deal?

It’s starts with a vision.  At Starbucks, the vision is ‘inspiring and nurturing the human spirit, one cup at a time, one person at a time and one neighborhood at a time’.  This vision is supported on 6 pillars (which I won’t go into.)  The challenge is to see how restocking shelves, taking out the trash and cutting off personal employee conversations fulfills this grand mission.  How do I inspire people to do the tasks set before them?  Not glamorous tasks, not even fun tasks (at least most of them).

I would venture to guess that it will involve bringing everyone continually back to the reason why we are doing any of this.  I have found that to be true in ministry.  Biblically we are too all be reminded of the glory of God and that it is all about Jesus.  But in our spiritually lives something even more radical is going on.  When we become Christians, we spend the rest of our life becoming like Christ, not because we have to (Jesus already did) or because we need to fulfill what is expected of us (Jesus fulfilled everything) but because we have actually been given a new nature, a new heart…we are new creatures, we actually want to obey God.

For me, I think leadership starts with prayer.  That I would live days of self-forgetfulness and that God would give his mercy and grace to me.  I can also be praying for the people that I work with.  One thing I learned in Toastmasters is that the less aware you are of the fact that you are giving a speech, the more natural you will be, and the better your speech will be.  But the more you are focussed on ‘doing a good’ speech, the worse that speech will actually be.

As humans, we need to be pried off of our self-focus.  That’s what Jesus helps us do.  That is also what helps us love and lead others.  It is not about us, or how well we are doing, but it is genuinely about the people you are leading.




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