All too often, we assume leadership is more about direct reports and delegation, rather than self development and optimization. Many of us are waiting for our turn to be the “boss” and tell others what to do. This antiquated view of leadership prefers that others serve us, rather than us serving others.
This leadership philosophy has resulted in countless casualties, stemming from bullies, dictators and authoritarians. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have served a tyrant, and may find it difficult to trust those in formal leadership positions.
That being said, it is important to note that being the boss doesn’t necessarily make one a leader. However, leaders typically make great bosses, because they value people and practice servanthood.
Leadership isn’t just a top-down phenomenon. Lead from your current position, whether formal or informal. Don’t waste any more time discussing the boss, but rather seek to become an effective leader.
Leadership is as much about stewardship as it is about servanthood. If servanthood is the fruit of effective leadership, then stewardship must be the root. Stewardship by definition involves managing assets and resources responsibly. Your greatest asset is YOU! Developing your leadership capability to better serve those around you is the first level of stewardship. Self-development is as much a matter of stewardship as managing financial budgets, materials and other resources. Stewardship of our talents, skills and abilities is an incredibly important and powerful subject. Interestingly enough, our natural gifts and abilities are not constants, but variables that can be improved with targeted work and development. Many of us are performing beneath our maximum. We are capable of so much more, but without the proper practice, discipline and development, we will continue performing subpar to our personal best. Leaders are perpetual learners. They continually acquire the knowledge, skill and experience to make them increasingly competent. Leaders learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflict, make quality decisions and a host of other necessary skill sets. Stewardship is the bridge that transforms our performance from good to great, and ordinary to extraordinary.
Leadership development cannot be reserved for specific job titles or formal leadership roles. Neither can leadership development solely become the responsibility of an employer, corporation or business entity. We would all argue the importance of succession planning and implementing strategic initiatives to develop and retain talent. Yet, this responsibility must permeate our homes and businesses alike. Effective leadership is not just critical to the success of a business, but to cultivating healthy families, churches and communities. The principle of “stewardship” places the responsibility of becoming an effective leader squarely on the shoulders of us all.
Leadership is for everyone; no one is exempt! Becoming stewards of our gifts, talents and abilities is only the beginning. In addition, we must challenge ourselves to become better stewards of our relationships, time, money and other resources. Imagine how great our return on investment would be if we built our leadership capacity on these timeless principles of stewardship and servanthood.