Leadership Isn’t Natural

Today and tomorrow my organization is hosting what we call our Leadership Summit. It is the follow up to a leader’s gathering we had late 2014 where we attempted to “clear the air” on a variety of subjects pertaining to our ministry and to our people. From that meeting it was determined that a follow up gathering focused on leadership training would be helpful and welcomed by the team that we determined to be our critical leaders at Arrow. They are not only the titled leaders at Arrow, but they are the leader of leaders all the way down through the ranks and beyond the walls.

Today we have introduced a topic that we have discussed around our senior leader’s table for a while  – leaders vs. managers. While we need both leaders and managers to be successful, the role of leader is the identity that we are attempting to forge in our leaders group. Our goal is to have 100 % of our leaders leading as close to 100 % of their time as possible leaving the smallest space in their day to manage things. Leading moves the ball forward. Managing holds onto the ball. Leading anticipates. Managing reacts. Leaders do manage and managers do lead, but rarely does one balance both at 50 % of the time. The requirements, the traits,  the calling, and the “mojo” is different between managers and leaders. It just is.

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Leading is not easy though. It is a learned and relearned skill. Leading others is tough, it is messy, it is exhausting. Leading isn’t natural. That is not to say that some don’t have natural leadership abilities. Because many people are born leaders, but their leadership abilities have to be sculpted through process in order to blossom into really natural leadership. Leading is not doing, controlling, bossing, demanding, or insisting our way to the top. Leading is living in a way that moves the pack in the direction that not only meets our desired destination, but benefits others all along the way.  Leadership is never a solo act. It is always a band in action making better music together than individually. Leading isn’t natural. Leading is learned.

Today I learned that learning to lead is not only critical to my success professionally, but it is necessary if my vocational calling is to reach its full potential. And I can never stop learning to lead no matter how long I have been a leader and how successful I may (or may not) have been. God did not call me to manage a mess. He called me to lead others towards a new kind of living – a new kingdom of loving – that can never been seen or reached by maintaining the status quo (a major management priority). That kind of leadership may not be natural, but it sure seems necessary right about now in my life, my work, my world.

“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”         – Max De Pree

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