Last week we discussed Authenticity in Leadership and concluded (together with research from Harvard Business School) that Character matters. This week we take a brief look at the Character of a truly remarkable leader.
Indeed, it is a special time of year. And in spite of all of the commercial hoopla, Christmas was initially designed to commemorate the birth of a remarkable historical person – Jesus of Nazareth. The degree to which history has been impacted by this One Life is incalculable. I cannot imagine the possibility of studying (or even simply reflecting on) the topic of leadership without taking a serious look at the life of this extraordinary leader. There is so much to learn from Him - and yet time and space limit this article – so here are five leadership lessons from the life of Jesus:
- Identity: In order to lead, we must be settled on – and aware of – who we are. We must be alert to both our strengths and weaknesses. Honest self-assessment and self-awareness are crucial to success as a leader. There is no doubt about this: Jesus knew who He was.
- Mission: The effective leader must be able to answer the question, “Why?” In common business terms, knowing the mission statement - the purpose - that drives our responsibility as a leader is central to success. Jesus knew why He was born and what was His life-mission.
- Teamwork: Effectiveness in leadership will necessitate forming and leading a team. By contrast, solo “do-it-all-myself” leaders flame out over time. High growth, and market expansion – for that matter, organizational effectiveness – will require teamwork. A leader must learn how to form and lead a team. Great leaders are great team builders. Jesus chose a team and taught them to proceed with His mission, even in His absence – and, as a result, they changed the world.
- Motivation: The Leader must decide who they are trying to please – and then act accordingly. We can’t please everybody – and many potentially successful leaders have been ship-wrecked on the rocks of seeking to please everyone. As a leader, one must settle the issue of personal motivation. Jesus knew who it was He intended to please and He never deviated from that singular motivation.
- Focus: Savvy leaders know how to sort out their priorities and concentrate on what is important. The ability to sift through multiple options, discern the central issue, and focus on achieving the right objective is a key characteristic of effectiveness in leadership. Jesus remained focused on accomplishing His singular objective – He did not ever let the “good” things get in the way of the “best” things.
There is much more to learn from this remarkable leader. I trust that the five attributes summarized above will get us each started on a path of additional personal discovery in exploring leadership based on the Life of the One who is at the apex of this season.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.