Before I dive into how we can handle the hardest person any of us will ever have to lead, I want to share a link to a video I posted on our social media channels a few hours ago calling attention to the amazing work that’s done by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and why we’re so excited to be able to work with them again this year as Community Partners for LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg!
I also want to share a link to a blog post I just read from The John Maxwell Company that ties right in with what we looked at in the last blog I posted, what we’ll be working through here, and what we’ll be digging into with the next few blog posts. Their post was called Leading from the Middle: I’m Not the Boss! You Do the Leading! I won’t speak for you on this, but the fact that this is something they’re addressing as well tells me that the misconception that you have to have authority in order to lead is pretty widespread!
How will you recognize the hardest person you’ll ever have to lead? That’s easy! We just need to know what they look like, and that person will look a little different for each of us… For me, the hardest person I have to lead on a daily basis stands about 6 feet tall and weighs about 245 pounds (unless he had a lot of pizza the day before). He’s typically wearing jeans and polo shirt, has fairly short brown hair, and doesn’t smile as much as he probably should because he’s so focused on climbing that next mountain. With any luck at all, that same person won’t be the hardest person you’ll ever have to lead - because the hardest person I have to lead at any given time looks a whole lot like ME! And I’m guessing the hardest person you’ll have to lead each day looks quite a bit like you too…
Why in the world would leading ourselves be more difficult than leading others, especially if we’re trying to lead others without having the authority that typically accompanies a title or a position? Remember John’s quote I shared last time, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less”? When we’re not willing to develop the self discipline necessary to lead ourselves well, everyone we interact with will notice. And as they watch us fail to meet expectations, there’s little chance we’ll be earning much of their respect or developing any influence with them. That blog I referenced earlier from The John Maxwell Company put it this way:
If you want to increase your level of influence from the middle of the organization, lead yourself well. This sounds easy enough, but the truth is we often hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. People who lead themselves well manage their time, their energy, their emotions, and their priorities. They have a consistency of behavior that not only influences others positively, it inspires others to be and do more.
Once we’re well on the way to leading ourselves, the hardest person we’ll ever have to lead, we’ll have a head start on building the right kind of influence with the people around us. Then we can start being intentional about providing the kind of leadership that others actually want to follow - and we’ll take a look at how we can do that without a title or position in the next post.
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