Principles of Leadership

What is leadership?

Leadership is the ability to obtain followers. Leadership is influence. You are a leader to the extent that people are following you.

Why is leadership important?

Leadership is important because it influences the destiny of people. Leadership also determines, to a large extent, what a group of people will be able to achieve. Leadership moves people towards common goals, principles and values. Good leadership enables people to work together well, and realise their potential. Poor leadership frustrates both people and projects. Poor leadership results in people being hurt. Good leadership results in strong people and excellent results.

These comments apply to every area of life and human endeavour.

Who Can be a Leader?

Anyone who can act can be a leader – however, some have greater leadership potential than others. Not everyone can be a great leader, but everyone can be a better leader.

The multiplication of leadership is the key to the multiplication of a movement. The communists knew this, and had as a motto, "Every communist a leader".

People have different personality types and styles of relating. Being a leader does not depend on having a particular personality type or style of relating.

Neither does leadership exclusively depend on having a particular technical ability or giftedness. A good leader without certain skills or gifts can lead people possessing those abilities. A great leader can gather around them others who are very gifted and capable in particular areas.

Both men and women can lead, although it is a fact that there are more male leaders in the world than female, and this will probably continue into the next century also. On the other hand, for every man that ever was, there was a mother, and the leadership influence of mothers over their own children can hardly be over-estimated.

How Does Leadership Happen?

Leadership happens in two ways. The most common way is that a faithful follower is promoted to a greater position of influence within an organisation, and thereby takes responsibility to lead people in their group or division.

The other way leadership happens is when an individual gets passionately interested in doing something, starts doing it alone, and finds others who want to join in.

A leader must lead. There is no leadership without action. There must be both action and communication.

What Qualities make a Better Leader?

A good leader leads by example. The greatest authority in leadership is reserved for those who have have done themselves the things they seek to motivate others to do.

A positive attitude is very important. Leadership is not possible without advocating something. Criticism of others behind their backs is not leadership. A leader must show a better way, mostly by example.

People what to be part of a winning team. A good leader must be positive even in the face of setbacks, so that people will not be discouraged and give up. This requires the quality of steadfastness and endurance.

A good leader is self-disciplined. A good leader can sacrifice his or her present comfort for future benefits, and in this way inspires others to do the same. A good leader manages his or her time well.

A good leader knows and studies people. A good leader is a good listener, and also observes the body language and non-verbal communication of others. A good leader waits before speaking, and does not promise quickly.

A good leader is in touch with the needs, hopes, aspirations and desires of others. A good leader considers others, and seeks to do things that benefit everyone involved.

A good leader is prepared to change and skilled in preparing others to embrace change.

A good leader encourages dissatisfied people in the organisation to work together to find a solution.

A good leader is willing to learn from others. A good leader also invests considerable time in self-education – by reading books, listening to tapes or attending seminars.

A good leader has personal integrity and works hard to develop this quality. Integrity means keeping one's word, and dealing truly with others. People do not like being let down by the broken promises of those in authority over them. A good leader will avoid resorting to tactics of manipulation.

A good leader is highly motivated to achieve results, and therefore diligent.

A good leader nevertheless is patient and slow to anger.

A good leader is faithful to others and inspires loyalty and team spirit in his or her followers.

A good leader enjoys other people and doesn't overly dwell on their weaknesses.

A good leader invests in others and empowers others to achieve and to become leaders themselves, without being threatened.

A good leader seeks models the attitude and practice of service towards others.

Biblical Examples of Leadership

Jesus Christ modelled all of the above characteristics. In seeking to lead people to God the Father, Jesus himself demonstrated the power of a relationship with God through prayer. He modelled faith for his disciples to observe, showing to them and later declaring to them the power of faith (see Mark 11:22-24). Jesus modelled love, self-discipline, integrity and righteousness. Not even his enemies could convict him of sin. They could only point out where he violated their own traditions and interpretations – such as his healing of people on the Sabbath. Jesus ultimately gave His life for his followers. The great miracle was that He got in back through his resurrection from the dead.

Jesus was positive and cheerful. He said to his disciples, "that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete". Even though he had many things to correct, he did so in a wise way. Jesus believed that his work would be accomplished, and entrusted part of it to his disciples, whom he trained. Later he left his disciples the task of reaching the world.

Jesus was self-disciplined. He often prayed through the night. Once He fasted forty days. All these things were preparation for His ministry.

Jesus could perceive the inner thoughts of others, even his enemies. He knew things about his disciples, even beyond what a man could know through the power of observation alone. Jesus did not waste His words.

Jesus gave himself to serve the needs of the people by healing their sick, feeding them when they were hungry, giving them a true hope concerning the kingdom of God, and setting them free from evil, sin and demons by the power of His Word and the Holy Spirit. Jesus made disciples and developed others who could continue His ministry after He left the earth.

Jesus demonstrated both nobility and compassion in his dealings with people. Multitudes followed him, yet he invested in relatively few so that the quality of his mission could continue for longer. Jesus demonstrated a humility and servant attitude that is unparalleled, considering his divine origin.

Many other things could be pointed out from the life of Jesus that illustrate leadership. It is true that Jesus' style of leadership was and is very different to much of the leadership of today. Yet His life has produced enduring moral results which have lifted so many to a better life and some to life eternal.

To be continued…

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