Updated: Dec 14, 2019
I’ve learned that leadership and followership is reciprocal:
you become like the leader you follow. If the leader has courage, the followers rise in courage. If the leader feels the end justifies the means, so do the followers. If the leader is a liar, the followers accept lying as normal and do likewise. The importance or unimportance of characteristics such as personal integrity, kindness, or social justice in the leader’s life will be reflected in the values of the followers.
and a leader attracts followers of the same ilk as themselves. People who want to be brave will look for a brave leader. People who want to be rich will look for someone who places a high value on riches. People who care about people will follow a leader who cares. People who don’t want their thinking challenged will follow a leader who cannot receive wise advice.I’ve learned a thing or two about leadership in the long years I’ve been living in this honourable calling. Here are some of them, not in any specific order. Feel free to add your own in the comments– it’s not an exclusive list.
I’ve learned that a leader can be courageous and strong and good, and still be wrong. I’ve learned that working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a visionary leader. I’ve learned how very easy it is for a leader to conquer several mountains and then succumb to the comfort of the plateau without realising it. I’ve learned that a leader can begin right and go wrong. I’ve learned that when a leader starts well but veers off course, it can take a while for the followers to realise it. I’ve learned that when followers realise their leader is no longer working for the good of those they lead, they have two choices:
they may close their eyes and pretend that all is well, continuing to perpetuate the lie. or they can choose to realign their loyalties to someone who leads with integrity, and thus, ensure their own integrity. I’ve learned that sycophants are not disciples. Dictionary definition – sycophant ˈsɪkəfant’
noun: sycophant; plural noun: sycophants – a person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage.
synonyms:toady, creep, crawler, fawner, flatterer, flunkey, groveller, doormat, obsequious person, minion, hanger-on, leech, puppet)
I’ve learned that being a good leader does not equate with goodness in the temperament of the leader. A good leader may not be a good person, but they are good at influencing people to follow them, whether their direction is right or wrong. I’ve learned that being a leader should never be allowed to constitute a person’s identity because leadership roles are transient. For the health of their soul and the souls of those they lead, the leader’s sense of self must be drawn from their values and beliefs. If identity is derived from being important or having a title, the leader’s personal integrity will inevitably be corrupted.
I’ve learned that a leader who refuses to learn new things and think new thoughts becomes irrelevant remarkably quickly, no matter how relevant they used to be.I’ve learned that without optimism, a leader cannot bring hope for a better future.I’ve learned that a leader without the ability to enthuse people with a vision for the future is a manager. I’ve learned that a leader who only listens to one side of the story is more likely to make a wrong decision than a right one. I’ve learned that the kind of people the leader surrounds themselves with is one of the most potent indicators of the kind of leader they will be.
I’ve learned that leaders and followers are made of the same stuff. When a leader comes to view themselves as superior to the people they lead, the rot begins to set in. I’ve learned that nations, churches, organisations, clubs, gangs, or any context where people group together, will always rise or fall based on how effectively they are led. I’ve learned that being pre-eminent in one season, decade or century, does not ensure pre-eminence in a subsequent season, decade or century. Empires rise and fall with monotonous regularity.
I’ve learned that without a true faith in the God who cares not just for the leader but also for the people they lead, leadership loses its true direction.