Monday, March 14, 2016

Model the Way - The Leadership Challenge for all Leaders

I have a friend who challenged me recently to continue my series on leadership. Here's Leadership Post number 21. Click here for more on the 100 days of leadership series. 

When I’m looking for an example of someone who showed selfless, compassionate support to people in need, I think about Mother Theresa. When I want to emulate perseverance in the midst of conflict, I look to military and political leaders who have pursued the advancement of their cause despite huge obstacles.

Good leaders 'model the way'. This is one of five practices of exemplary leadership as noted by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. Modelling the way is about firstly clarifying values and then aligning your behaviours and actions with those values. Your behaviours will highlight your values irrespective of whether you clarify them, but by spending a few moments to consider what you value, you can see whether your behaviours align with those values. If they don’t, then something needs to change!

From a faith perspective, I have been a part of a church that says that ‘Prayer is our number one value.’ Though, when only 2 people turn up to the prayer meeting, you know the value is merely an aspirational value. The behaviours that are being modelled are what characterizes what you value. The prayer meeting has since grown and what once was aspirational is becoming a core value.

Great leaders, ‘…create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.’ ( Nelson Mandela chose forgiveness and reconciliation even when he was imprisoned for 27 years. I have witnessed Salvation Army leaders who have had someone say something negative to their face, and their response was one of compassion, understanding and respect.

I long to be a leader who models the behaviours of great leaders.

Recently my daughter said directly to me, ‘Can I have a drink of water?’
I replied, ‘Please, can I have a drink of water?’
Please, can I have a drink of water?’ She said a little indignantly. I wanted her to know that using your manners was important.
Five minutes later. I looked over to my wife, and said, ‘Can you pass over the sauce?’ My wife gave me a look. My brain couldn’t cope. I’ve seen this look before. What was I doing wrong? Why was I receiving this sour face? Like a typical man in a marriage, I think I have messed up, and I don’t even know how.
She put me out of my misery… ‘Please, can I have some sauce?’
‘Oh yeah. Please can I have some sauce?’

Leaders model the way.

What does the Bible say?

Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What will I do now?
What are your standards of excellence? How can you better model the way to your areas of influence?

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