Months ago we started our discussion of leadership with my favorite definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence.” This definition is most often attributed to John Maxwell. As we explored the difference between effective leadership and good leadership, our working definition evolved into “good leadership effectively influences people to good outcomes.”
As we emerge from the holiday season and from (hopefully) a period of rest, it might be beneficial to reflect on the most important responsibility of a leader—to lead oneself.
This includes taking care of oneself; after all, it’s hard to influence people to good outcomes from a position of physical infirmity, mental exhaustion, emotional depletion or spiritual poverty.
We must be intentional about taking certain actions (and refraining from other actions) so that we can be at our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional best. One of the most important things we can do in this regard is to get rest.
A good leader spends a lot of time responding to requests for her counsel. As General Colin Powell has said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
A good leader also spends a lot of time serving others. “The heart of the leader is manifested through service to others” (quote by Artika Tyner).
If a leader was a well of water, this combination of water being drawn out (by people seeking counsel) and water being poured out (as leaders serve those around them) inevitably leads to a pretty dry well.
As Jethro told Moses after watching him serve the people from “morning until evening”: “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out” (Exodus 18:17-18).
Taking care of ourselves is not only important for us as leaders but also for the people we are influencing to good outcomes. In coming blogs we will discuss this important aspect of leadership.