This is part 7 of a series of posts on leadership. In this post we continue our investigation of the qualities great leaders demonstrate. Not every great leader possesses all these traits, but they recur among those we commend as great leaders.
1 Cor. 15:58 • Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Great Leaders are hard realists who don’t pretend there aren’t going to be difficult problems that arise. In fact, they count on them. But they know those difficulties are a necessary part of accomplishing the vision. It’s those difficulties that are going to unite the team and teach the important lessons of patience and courage. Because remember, it’s all about what happens IN THE PEOPLE!
So the leader stays on course and isn’t distracted or diverted from the course the Vision has set. She/He models courage for the rest of the team and encourges [puts courage into] them with words of hope. The leader who’s easily discouraged won’t be able to keep followers for very long.
Leaders lead. And that means change! We can’t go there unless we leave here. But some people are change-averse. They are allergic to it. They want everything to stay as it’s been, and is. So when a leader proposes change, they balk. They throw a hissy-fit.
When the leader makes it clear he/she is not going to be stalled by the intransigence of the change-averse, critics will often move from attacking the proposed change to attacking the changer. They’ll point out flaws and mistakes, both real and imagined.
It’s easy to let these critics get to you. They’re annoying and can pull angry retorts from us. Great leaders count it as part of their territory that they’ll face criticism from nay-sayers. So they have a thick skin. They ignore the nattering nay-bobs or negativity. They refuse to reply to personal attacks.
I encourage you to read the Gospels and take a look at how Jesus dealt with His critics. He often ignored their jabs. Other times He answered them. A close look reveals Jesus only answered when the accusations misrepresented His mission and harmed His followers’ trust in Him. If they didn’t pose that threat, He ignored them.
Anyone in leadership has to admit it hurts when critics accuse you of something. But responding to their salvos requires wisdom. If it’s merely personal, let it go. If it undermines your vision and leadership, answer it with truth.