Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What does leadership look like?

I've been reading a few blogs on leadership for awhile, and today came across a new one - about the decisions and actions we must pay attention to when living our life, so it doesn't just become something we float through. It is written by my friend Mike and today, browsing through past posts, I noticed this line: "Are you 'spending' your time or 'investing' your time?" What a concept. I'm pretty sure I've heard something like it before, but it blew me away.

Then, when looking back over another site I frequent, I came across this post again. The focus of this post is one that hits me deeply. How many kids have I met/interacted with/talked to and never even thought about this? For that matter, how many people in general? There are many times I remember feeling like I was that kid/person. I strive to do what's right, and sometimes, that means you are left to yourself, while those who struggle are given more attention.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound like I need or want more attention. I am not one who enjoys being center of attention. Trust me. I can do it sometimes, when absolutely necessary, or when I can lose myself in the worship, or the character, etc. Otherwise, count me out from the spotlight.

These ideas got me thinking about true leadership. What does it really look like? A leader must be confident, but must also be willing to admit to and show that s/he is working on getting better in areas of weakness. A leader must be decisive, but must also be willing to listen to the ideas and advice of those around him/her. A leader must take action, but also must be willing to wait and weigh their decisions before they act. A leader must make sure that everything is being done well and on time, but must also be willing to trust those who are following them to be able to do those things without detailed supervision. There are many aspects of leadership that seem contradictory, at least at first glance.

What often is seen is that the person calling him/herself a leader is often strong in some areas and very weak in others (as are we all). The problem comes when that person is not willing to take criticism or figure out how to adapt and grow. When s/he thinks s/he has it all under control. When s/he thinks there is no need to review his/her actions or revisit how s/he does things in his/her leadership position.

Worse, there are many people who don't even realize they are in a leadership position. They think they are just being helpful, and whatever else might happen, they do not have the responsibility that comes with being a leader. A leader is someone others look up to. When something goes wrong, or needs clarification, or is getting frustrating, the leader is the one they come to - and s/he must be ready to address whatever issue they are bringing.

What are characteristics, qualities, or actions you would include in a description of true leadership?

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