One of the biggest threats a leader faces is believing that they way they learn and develop is the way everyone learns and develops. This thought process can trick us into thinking that what worked for us will work for everyone. That people should adhere to our teaching style as opposed to us leading them in a way in which they can learn.
I currently have 2 kids. Both are boys and they are about 4 1/2 years apart. Simon is our oldest and Ezra is our youngest. I love my kids the same, but I show them love in different ways. I discipline my kids equally, but I also discipline in different ways. Leadership must be approached in the same way if our primary goal is to help others grow into the leader God has called them to be.
There is a scripture in 1 Samuel 17:38-39 that reads,
“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.”
David has just decided that he is about to do what everyone else was afraid to do. He is about to go get into a fight with Goliath. So when he approaches the king to let him know the plan, Saul doesn’t listen to his story and how he has prepared. Saul decides that if David is going to do this then he will need armor and everything else he is not used to. He doesn’t even acknowledge any of the training that David had had, so Saul gives David his armor. That armor wasn’t built or designed for David.
Saul’s approach to David was a flawed approach that so many of us take today. Saul thought to himself, “This armor works for me so it should work for you”. “This is how I do it, so this should be how you do it”. “This is how I fight, so fight the way I fight”. We all know that Saul was an entitled leader. The entitled leader hurts others by believing that what worked for them will work for everyone. One size does not fit all!
We often hear leaders say, “Don’t try to be anyone else, because God created you to be you”, or “No one will ever be better at being you than yourself”. If that is true, why do we often as leaders, look to lead people into being people just like us? As leaders it is time for us to change our approach. Instead of trying to create clones of ourselves, lets help draw the best out of the people that we are leading so they can be all that God has called them to be.
To do this we must…
- Not be threatened. It is easy as a leader to look around and see all of the incredible people around you and fall into the trap of fear. What if someone is better than me at… or what if someone looks smarter than me, or more creative. We must be secure in who we are and what we are doing.
- Celebrate differences. When someone we are leading thinks different, acts different or look different we should see an opportunity, not an obstacle. How can you help them leverage their influence in their world to better lead the people around them?
- Squash insecurity. Insecurity is something that runs rampant in our culture today. If we allow our insecurity to lead us and guide us in our thoughts, actions and decision-making we will undoubtedly go down the wrong path. Insecurity always leads from a place of defense.