As I was preparing training slides for my next presentation on leadership, I came across two concepts that struck a chord in me. The first concept was coined by Dr. Myles Munroe in his book entitled Becoming A Leader (1993). He used the phrase “out there.” He writes, “While we often think of leaders as “out there,” we need to look within ourselves. Each one of us is a leader who can affect the people and institutions in our own spheres of influence” (p.13).
When there is a just cause; whom do you look to? Is there anyone better than you “who can get the job done so said that inner voice? Often the right person is our self. We need to look within ourselves to get the job done, to improve the employees’ morale, to right the wrong. Who do you have influence with; what changes have been made in the past because of what you said or did? You can do it again. Leaders are not people “out there.” Leaders are ordinary people who accept or, due to circumstances, are thrust into taking charge; and in the process, “bring forth their latent potential, producing character that inspires the confidence and trust of others” (Becoming A Leader, 1993, p.12).
Now pause and think for a minute. What about that time when you were thrust into a leadership role. Think of the people you influenced. What about those changes that were made due to your efforts and the efforts of those you led. Because of that special journey, you are still seen as a leader and are often called to lead the next adventure whether it is on your job, your neighborhood, a civic affiliation or in your faith community.
This brings me to the second concept which was coined by John Maxwell. He stated that leadership is a journey. It is a “journey that starts where you are, not where you want to be” (The 360 Degree Leader, 2005, p.274). Often times we want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to be the CEO of the company, the president or chair of a particular group or the one who will lead the next march on City Hall or Washington.
Maxwell writes that “you need to have your eyes fixed on your current responsibilities, not the ones you wish to have someday” (p.275). If you are not successful at your current level how can you assure others and yourself that you will be successful and will be “a qualifier for leading at the next level” (p.274)? As discussed in an earlier post, Henry and Richard Blackaby believe that prior small successes can be a good sign post for emerging leaders to take on greater responsibilities and that these successes, along with the person’s life experiences, can greatly affect the kind of leader a person will become (Spiritual Leadership, 2001).
Have you been there; I know I have? You want the larger role, but at the same time, there are unfinished businesses at your current level of responsibilities. If we take care of our present responsibilities, the future will take care of itself. Greater responsibilities and yes, sometimes a new title, more money, different stressors and headaches will come with your prized endeavor; but it is not your time yet. You have current responsibilities to take care of.
Leadership is a journey and like all journeys we pack our essentials to assure a safe, but fun trip. But like many journeys there are surprises along the way. Those surprises will not deter us if we do our homework before hand. As it relates to leadership, the leader must know where he wants to go. The leader must have a vision; a vision that usually comes from the leader’s conviction. On this journey, will the leader have followers? The leader needs people who will follow her, protect her and help her realize her vision. The leader and followers are confident about this new journey because of the leader’s success with previous journeys.
So we see that leadership is not a one time effort. It is a life time journey often prompted by our inner voice to right the wrong, to improve job processes, to enhance our neighborhoods and to strengthen our faith community.
So are you ready to listen to your inner voice and begin your next journey? We are counting on you.