This month’s Horizons is focusing on leadership and business development. As I was attending a leadership training course, a friend reminded me of the quote from Benjamin Hooks, “If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.” Sometimes we think we are leading because we have the title, or because we have written about what we are doing for leadership in our newsletter, but it doesn’t mean we are actually leading, unless others are with us.
During that leadership training course I appreciated Andre LePeau’s simple definition of leadership, “Influence. That’s it. A one-word definition. Anyone who influences someone else to do something has led that person.” Whether for good or bad. What is it that will influence people the most? Napoleon Bonaparte commented that a leader is a “dealer in hope.” Hope is what sells most products, gives people a reason to lay down their lives, makes us give up what we think as we want to go in a new direction. Hope is the key characteristic of how we influence others to walk with us.
Our training session also used LePeau’s expanded definition, “Leadership is any influence any person has on an individual or group to meet its needs or goals for the glory of God.” I valued this definition because it puts a fence around good leadership that puts restrictions on my ego. It also takes leadership out of the role of position or title to see it as more of a function of service and motivation.
Nelson Mandela commented that “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” Mandela paints a picture of our mandate that, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant…. even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:26, 28).
Our role as leaders is to build up, empower, and hand-over, so that others may fulfill their God-given calling and service. We have done well as leaders in Mongolia when others don’t remember what great things we have accomplished, but others remember the things accomplished for God were done by the great people around us.