“The easiest thing to do is react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.” – Seth Godin
The Definition Of Leadership
Leadership is influence, but it is more than that. You are only leading when someone is following. You can be very influential in society and around your circles, but if no one is following you then you aren’t leading. It really is that simple.
But leadership certainly has a lot to do with influence. I like to think of it as Applied Influence.
Applied Influence means that someone is putting into practice what they’ve gleaned from you. They are applying your wisdom, your persona, your guidance, your rules, your…whatever. And so they begin following you. When you speak, they listen and put it into action. When you move, they watch and wonder how they can do it as well.
That’s the definition of leadership. The definition of leadership is applied influence.
Managers react and leaders lead. Initiating is difficult, but it’s what leaders do.
An organization, any organization, needs people who aren’t just willing to follow, but are eager to follow. Leading someone to give up one worldview and begin embracing yours isn’t easy, and it’s not always comfortable. But that’s what leaders do. That’s the definition of leadership.
The one path that never works is the most common one; doing nothing at all. Leadership is a choice. It’s the choice to not do nothing. Leaders lean in and back off, but they don’t do nothing at all.
Leading A Church
When I began pastoral ministry, I received advice from many wise and influential people. And I took all of it seriously. I drank it in and tried my best to find nuggets of wisdom in every idea thrown my way. After all,
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding” (Proverbs 3:13)
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14).
However, some of the counsel I received went as follows: Try not to change anything at all for the first year. In fact, try not to change anything significant in the first three years if you can.
Now, I understand why that counsel was given. A church is made up of people with their own opinions, ways of doing things, and there is a massive status quo to deal with. Church splits have occurred in some churches over things like changing the colors on the walls, the order of the service, or adding an electric guitar to the list of acceptable instruments.
So I knew that going in.
But I also knew that sort of counsel had management written all over it. Managers don’t change things; they manage what they’re given. Leaders cast a vision. That’s a big difference. If all the church wanted was a manager than they don’t need a pastor.
A pastor is to be a spiritual shepherd. A shepherd leads the sheep to find water and greener pastures. The shepherd’s role is to feed the sheep, not fleece them! A pastor needs to understand the definition of leadership. But that doesn’t mean leading with a heavy fist either. Certainly not. No one likes following a dictator.
When I came to the church where I am at currently serving as the senior pastor, they had been without a pastor for well over a year. The men in leadership during those pastorless months had done a great job at keeping the boat afloat. They were managing what they had and they did a great job!
When I came, serving as the interim pastor for the first six months of my stay, I was able to see that the church was floating along on cruise control. They were meeting, conducting worship services, and paying the bills. They were loving one another and worshiping the Lord, but they lacked vision. They didn’t have a destination, a vision.
So that’s what we are focusing on right now. We’re figuring out our vision, our mission, and what we hope to accomplish. We’ve changed many things in the last twelve months. I can’t think of one thing we changed that I regret. Every change was needed and most of the people have been grateful for the changes, and have expressed that gratitude verbally.
A few people have been uncomfortable with some of the changes, and that was to be expected. You can’t please everyone all the time. Nobody likes being pushed out of their comfort zone. But sometimes that is what’s needed in order to achieve success and reach an agreed upon destination.
There will be failures in my leadership, I’m sure of that. I expect failures. But I also expect great successes. The challenge of leading effectively, as I see it, is creating a lot more success than failures. And that’s the true definition of leadership!
QUESTION: What is the definition of leadership as far as you understand leadership?
* Image credit: edbrambley (Creative Commons)