The year is nearly over. Many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans. (What? You don’t do that at your organization? Maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back.)
As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.
If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives, or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?”
Without fail the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.
I work with pastors a lot. And this group has good reasons to be concerned. Churches are in decline. And everyone is looking around for a reason. Few are looking inward. But pastors are not unique in this lack of self-awareness. Business and commercial enterprises are full of leaders without a compelling case for followship.
But the problem is that you can’t do anything in a church or ministry setting without followers. And pastors are called to be leaders. For all of the talk out there about servant leadership, and I am a big fan of servant leadership, pastors are called to be shepherds. And shepherds are leaders. They lead the sheep. They don’t wander with sheep. They lead sheep.
So leaders of churches, ministries or non-profit organizations had better know what it takes to lead effectively. They must find ways to engage people and gauge very quickly their commitment to the organization’s goals and mission.
Sadly, most don’t know how to really lead, and who can blame them? They were never taught that in seminary or divinity school. And when they gather together they create a group that often seeks out the leader of the largest organization and immediately tries to imitate everything that they are doing in hopes that they can create a duplicate success story. Only to find out that works in one situation may not work in another.
What about you? Do you have a compelling reason to give why someone would want to follow you?
Recently the Corragio Group posed this question in a Harvard Business Review on-line survey that was taken by leaders around the world. The responses revealed an interesting mix of perspectives. Here are a few that were received:
- “Because I’m above average height.”
- “Because I’m willing to wash the feet of my followers.”
- “Because I can provide enough confidence for myself.”
- “Because they just do. I can’t explain it.”
- “Because my values are clear.”
- “Because I’ll bring out the best in them.”
- “Because I’m credible.”
Obviously they hit a nerve with that question. What they found as they reviewed the responses was something very important to consider: Is it possible that many leaders honestly don’t know why anyone would want to be led by them?
If getting clear on why anyone would want to be led by you resonates and you think that it’s important for you to be able answer the question, then join me for a dialog on this topic in the coming days. Consider this as my closing quote for this initial article on leadership and followship.
“You’re never too old and you’ll never occupy a position too high to admire someone else for their leadership ability.”