Friday, September 7, 2012

Law No. 13 - The Law of the Picture - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - Law No. 13 - The Law of the Picture

'People do what People see'.

This leadership principle is really the old adage, that people will copy what you do, not what you say. Those of us with children know this well. We can tell our kids a thousand times to use their manners, but if we never use our manners, we will struggle to create that habit in them! They follow what you do, or rather, they do what they see.

In leadership we may well call this integrity; having our words line up with our actions. We may well label it as being authentic.

John Maxwell speaks of a leader from the military sector, known as Dick Winter. He would be the first out of the trenches inspiring his paratroopers to arise out of the ditches and push forward in battle. While the mild pacifist tendencies within me struggle a little with this story from the military, I don't want to lose sight of the purpose behind the story. Dick Winter summed up his own leadership in 2006 when he wrote, 'I may not have been the best combat commander, but I always strove to be. My men depended on me to carefully analyze every tactical situation, to maximize the resources that I had at my disposal, to think under pressure, and then to lead them by example.'

That's the leadership principle worth holding on to. 'To lead by example'. For a follower of Jesus, leading by example, means servant leadership. It means if you want to create a culture of people serving God, then leadership is probably best expressed in helping to clean the toilets occassionally! Servant leaders serve.

Whitley David says of leadership, 'A good supervisor is a catalyst, not a drill sergeant. He creates an atmosphere where intelligent people are willing to follow him. He doesn't command; he convinces.'

Norman Vincent Peale remarks on leadership that, 'Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice but set a bad example.'

Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize-winner) said, 'Example is leadership.'

I saw this clearly when I was a Youth Minister, and working with teenagers. You could say to them that having a good attitude was important, but if you didn't act in such a way that your actions were congruent with your words, it would fall on deaf ears. My character was in a sense more important than talking about my character. Leadership is best lived out by example, not rhetoric.

That's John C. Maxwell's Law of the Picture. "People do what people see." (adapted from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership)


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