Management

Hungering for a Leader

by Joanne Leitschuh

"Each of us, not just those at the top, has our own aspirations and goals. When individual dreams are unlocked and built into the bigger picture, a team becomes unstoppable."

Are we lacking leaders in our businesses and society today? Leadership is vital. In a recent survey, performed by the Institute of Management, a leader was defined as knowledgeable and ambitious. However, inspiring leaders were those that could think strategically and therefore were more valuable.1 Someone once said "knowledge is power", but is that really true in leadership?

The hunger for knowledge is evident in our society today. All you need to do is watch the news to hear hour after hour of in-depth coverage on current events — or be caught up in the fascination of searching the internet for information that you probably didn't even set out searching for! Val Hammond, CEO of Roffey Park Institute says that "It is as if in our thirst for, and emphasis on, important knowledge and objectives, we have overlooked the need to tell a story in which everyone can play their own part with gusto and delight. More than that, we have forgotten what every child would tell us: that the joy of the story is in the re-telling. We overlook the need to constantly reaffirm what we aim to achieve and why, to enthuse as well as to inform."1

What is your idea of a good leader? Wouldn't you agree that leaders shouldn't be boring? Leaders can learn to have style and vigor while putting a message across. A leader can experiment with different approaches to increase effectiveness while at the same time staying true to themselves. Leaders need to stay in touch with reality and simply tell it like it is.

Val Hammond also said that "Each of us, not just those at the top, has our own aspirations and goals. When individual dreams are unlocked and built into the bigger picture, a team becomes unstoppable."1 I was inspired reading that. As an office manager working with a small group of people, I appreciate the benefit in utilizing everyone's talents and skills. Teamwork is vital to move forward. When projects begin to seem too big, I get encouraged when I hear how each person envisages the goal. Each person is a leader in their own area of expertise and vision.

In Carmel McConnell's book, Change Activist, she says that "people look to everything from horoscopes to personal trainers for the missing ingredient that will guide them. Just look at how many guidance books are out on the market! The message is often how to improve one fragment of your whole self. Spreadsheet skill is useful. So is being able to self coach and lead by example. You don't need to have the rare leadership gene to be a protagonist in building an extraordinary business institution. Henry Ford went bust how many times before getting lucky? Ditto with that nice Mr Dunlop and his rubber products. You can create a rich, happy and fulfilling life by changing the way you think and the things you do. We can steer our lives by personal responsibility, powered by our values."2

So, there seem to be two issues here. One is that we all need to be led, and two, we all have the responsibility to be our own leaders.

Moses and Aaron were leaders. They were hand-picked by God. They not only led others, but they had to lead steady, "true-to-themselves" lives. Moses couldn't make the Israelites obey him, but he could inspire them with his own obedience and love for God. Even great King David cried, "Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long. 3

Being a leader has great demands. Where is the supply? In our own enthusiasm which eventually fades? In our own knowledge which is frustratingly limited? Or in the dependence to be guided by Someone who knows more than we do — Someone who sees it all and knows it all? Building on our relationship with God not only gives a basis for trusting the leaders above us, but gives us a steady guide on how to lead our own lives. Jesus, the greatest Leader of all, said in Luke 22:26: "…let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves."

All human leaders and guidance strategies have their weaknesses. Isn't it encouraging to know that the greatest Leader of all is still living to serve us so that we can serve those who are looking to us for leadership?

1. "In my Opinion", Val Hammond, Management Today, February 2002.
2. McConnell, Carmel, Change Activist, Pearson Education Limited, London, 2001. p.46
3. Psalm 25:4-5

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