May 9, 2016

This does not compute

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Effective leaders exhibit deep personal humility and an unshakeable will regarding the mission/vision/values of the organization.

Many bigger than life leaders have charisma oozing from their persona! Many are hard drivers who have an amazing level of persuasive influence. Many are able to get a lot done in a relatively short period of time. Some fall victim to the pride of success that often precedes the fall. However, not all effective leaders are these bigger than life folks. Some exhibit deep personal humility, yet lead with outstanding effectiveness.

As a leader, whose charisma can easily fill a thimble, I was struck by the description of the Level Five Leader in the research by Jim Collins in his massive project, entitled GOOD TO GREAT. All the leaders of the eleven companies that met the very high standard of moving from good to great over a sustained period of time were persons of deep personal humility and a deep commitment to the goals of the company. None of them was a well known leader.

In my work with church leaders, I have noticed that arrogance is a key indicator for ineffective leadership. From a biblical perspective, this comes as no surprise. Bold, proud, super confident Peter was one who simply could not stand firm as a follower of Jesus. As a forgiven failed disciple, he later served as an effective apostle for decades to come. I am touching on very delicate ground here. God has used charismatic leaders in wonderful ways and will continue to do so. I consider Bill Hybels to be one such leader, who has deeply influenced my own life, from afar. The issue is not charisma or personality, but rather humility as a follower of Jesus, the Lord of the Church.

Alongside humility, is this deep commitment to something larger than oneself – to the mission/vision/values that God has given to the organization one is called to lead. The effective Christian leader moves toward Kingdom objectives with the tenacity of a mother protecting her young. The vision is an all-consuming passion for the leader. There is a sense that this is what God has placed the leader on the earth to pursue at this point in time. She is able to marshal the resources of the organization to this end, for the sake of God’s glory.

The challenge of effective Christian leadership requires both humility and deep commitment to the task before us.

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