Leadership: My wife Sharon and I share a common affinity for serving as second-in-command. Neither of us enjoy being the main leader of a project or organization, though at times we still do it.
Myself, after a turn at the wheel I return to the passenger seat where I’m most comfortable, often in the role of advisor (backseat driver, ha!).
Advising is an art. Currently I serve as advisor to a couple of strong leaders in InterVarsity. I love them both. Wouldn’t want to be either of them, however.
There’s a certain rule I follow in offering counsel to others: advice comes with no strings attached. Meaning, the leader doesn’t have to do what I suggest, and I won’t be hurt or offended.
This posture tends to build repeat business for the advisor.
My favorite leaders are those who combine confidence with humility. This is at the heart of leadership, and I find it a rare combination.
One leader who embodies both qualities is a certain megachurch pastor that I hang with a few times annually. His church ministers to thousands on a weekly basis and pours millions into overseas missions.
This pastor talks and walks like a regular guy, with no pretense. And I’ve noticed how he’s earned the respect of those in his circle without requiring it.
That’s a leader I would follow.
Occasionally he calls with a request for input, usually theological in nature. Again, rule must be followed: provide him with ideas and options with no obligation implied. After all, it’s his church, his sermon or class, his responsibility. I must be a resource, not a salesman.
The best leaders I’ve worked with over four decades are also good listeners. They listen to their people, then act.
I know a leader who acts without listening. Her employees are disillusioned. They don’t feel valued, just used. (I fear my own leadership may have tended in this direction.)
I know another leader who listens without acting. His team is bored, and disappointed at the lack of meaningful work and success.
Lastly, good leaders develop their people. This is the most obvious thing. It’s in every leadership book and seminar. I admire a leader who has an eye for the latent talents of his/her people, then goes to each one and says, “I think I see something in you. Do you see it yourself? Do you feel it? Let’s get you into position to develop that ability . . . “
That’s another leader I’d follow.