It is extremely fulfilling to work with a good leader, and it is draining to work with a poor one. So, what is that great leaders do that make working with them so fulfilling and rewarding? What can you and I consistently do to lead the people we serve so that they will be energized and fulfilled?
- The first and most important thing great leaders do is bring hope through a clear and compelling vision. They see what is and they see what could be. Jesus told people that he had water to drink that would cause them to never thirst again. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw what was and what could be, and he eloquently communicated a picture of what could be in his “I have a Dream” speech. The best leaders have a vision burning in their souls and they communicate it with unbridled passion and conviction.
- The best leaders also give some guidelines that will shape how the vision becomes a reality. They communicate values that will guide behavior. Chick Fil a does this with their values of dignity, honor, and respect for all people. When you drive away from every Chick fil a, the last words you hear are “My pleasure.” That is guided by their honor and dignity for every customer. Every organization has values, written or unwritten that guide behaviors. The best organizations and the best leaders carefully take their time to create core values that will guide all behaviors of their employees so that the vision becomes reality. Values ensure that the vision is likely to be accomplished.
- The best leaders understand the power of a person’s story. A person’s story will trump the best lecture every day. A person’s story communicates vulnerability, relatability, and empathy. Stories appeal to both the mind and the heart of people. Want to inspire people with your vision? Tell stories of the vision becoming reality for a person, and you will have people wanting the same for themselves. God demonstrates the power of a person’s story from the beginning of the Bible to the end of it. The power of story didn’t end in the last book of the Bible. Stories are happening all around us. We just need good story tellers to unleash their power.
- Another thing the best leaders do is that they build a strong team to lead with them. They know they don’t have everything needed to make a vision reality. They find strategic thinkers, process people, empathetic people. They find people who are stronger than them in almost every area. They love hiring smarter, brighter, more strategic, more insightful people than themselves.
- The final and perhaps the most impactful ingredient that great leaders bring is empathy. They have learned to feel what other people feel. When people feel empathy from someone, they will connect and sign up to go with them into the fiercest of battles. When you can combine a great vision caster who also has incredible empathy, look out. That combination is hard to stop.
Questions to Consider
- As you lead, have you taken the time to clarify your vision for your group/organization so that it is clear, compelling, and inspiring?
- What are the values that guide your behaviors? Have you communicated those to your team?
- Are you using stories to communicate what you about? Who might be good story candidates?
- What gaps do you have on your team? What strengths do you need to go after?
- How is your empathy? Take time to listen to someone this week? Ask questions about their situation? See what is stirred in your soul? Try to allow yourself to feel what they feel.