Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Most Important Truth About Leadership

Leadership is elusive. How can you gauge when you have mastered it (if there is such a thing)? How do you know if you are failing miserably? What is the most important factor in leadership? If someone knows the most important thing you need to know as a leader, then let the world know.

It might sound crazy to you, but I think God downloaded a one-liner that will revolutionize my future. It will stop me thinking about things out of my control. It will keep me focused. So, I'm about to give you t
he most important tip on leadership anyone could ever give you. Possibly.

We are bombarded with information in this age of technology and resource rich environment. In fact we have so much information and resources on our fingertips we at times are overwhelmed. Let's knuckle it down. What is the most important truth for a leader?

John C. Maxwell drilled down leadership to 21 Irrefutable Laws. Posner and Kouzes in The Truth About Leadership nailed down ten truths that encapsulate good leadership. Others like Pastor Bill Hybels have knuckled leadership down to four fundamentals, like vision and character. Authors like Jim Collins offer us insights into developing level 5 kinds of leadership. Stephen Covey leaved a legacy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and added an overarching 8th Habit later on.

I am about to give you the one most important leadership tip you will ever read. That may be a big call, and I am happy to hear something different on the matter! It will focus your leadership development, it will help you understand conflict, and it will help you realise the hurdles and the reason for the occasional stumble. It  will help you focus on what you can change, and not what you can't.

So, what is my most important truth about leadership? 

The number one leadership idea came to me while being a Leader on a Youth Camp. I was laying on the dormitory bed, reflecting on the day that had just been. I was reflecting on the challenges I was facing. I was thinking about the future, the possibilities, the change that could happen, the difference that could be made... I prayed. I asked God to equip me to be a better leader. 

Then something popped in my mind, that had me sitting up straight immediately. I call it a 'Word from the Lord', and some of you might just call it an idea that sprung into my head. It nonetheless lifted me from any sort of slumber and made me take notice.

Here it is...

"The greatest challenge you will ever face in leadership, is you."

I thought about this. Surely not?! What about Mrs. Jones, and that annoying manager, and that controlling so-and-so. What about the autocratic leader, or the unteachable team member, or the child who won't listen to the parent... No. The greatest challenge in your life, and your journey as a leader is and will always be, you.

I thought about my relationship with others. I considered all the times of conflict resolution and still thought to myself, 'Surely the greatest challenge is that other person.' Then I reflected a little further. 

If someone frustrates me, I am challenged to consider my response. If someone bad mouths me, I am challenged by how I handle the situation. If a project is not completed on time, I should not be blaming the part-time receptionist. If an employee has a character flaw, the greatest challenge personally is my capacity to graciously help the employee see what may need to change. If the team does not reach its goals, you generally fire the coach. 

See, the greatest challenge, and the most important truth about leader development, is the need to grow yourself. 

As a Christian, the challenge for me, is to be more Christlike, to grow in holiness and to let my life encapsulate Servant Leadership or Spiritual Leadership and be gracious, compassionate, and assertive in leadership that draws people together to change the world for God!

For you, in whatever field of work, and whatever your passions are, and whatever dreams keep you up at night, remember, the greatest challenge in leadership will always be... you.

Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.


  1. Excellent, I often wondered what would be the toughest challenge, you gave me the answer. i'm my toughest opponet. bless you and thanks for the insight.

  2. Hey Pete,

    This article is awe inspiring, and has made me really think about the processes and ways of achieving goals. But as you say it, everything comes down to you as a leader in order for things to get down, it has really made me realize my personal flaws and in order to work better and lead better, I need to grasp an understanding of myself a little more deeply. I can't express how important this article has hit me. So I say thank you very much.


    1. Good stuff Jazza. You know any limitations you have in your field of work, will most likely always be the limitations of your own leadership and capactiy. :)

      Talk to you soon awesome nephew!


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