What is a Leader, really?

We connected with another podcast locally and after discussing some topics we agreed that leadership would be the best one for us. I have experience as a leader in the corporate world. AJ has experience as a leader in the religious world. This opportunity worked out great for us too because we have a goal of getting AJ a speaking engagement. He discerned the message he had was for CORE teams (the youth leaders, usually college age, who assist with youth groups). This left us with a question of: What is leadership?

I did a quick poll on Instagram to see what people thought were good behaviors of a leader. I got one that said a leader should be able to lead each person differently as each person is different. Another one I got was that a leader should be able to set a vision for people to follow.

I agree with both of those, but more specifically a leader is…just a person. There is no special genetic code that makes a good leader.

When I first became a supervisor, I had a manager and director very involved in my work. I made a mistake and everyone was mad at me. My manager told, “never let them see you sweat.” He wanted me to present myself as above them, as separate. I was a supervisor and the common folk have no right to question me. My director on the other hand was like, “that’s stupid. You’re human, be human and they will forgive you. They will also respect you more if you just go apologize.” Me being the non-confrontational person that I am, chose to apologize. My director was right. When I apologized, my team saw me as just another person. I wasn’t perfect, but I was owning up to it. That was something they could get behind.

I took that lesson to heart and built my leadership model around that. I told my employees that I was just another dude on the team that has a different job. I’m not better than you, or worse than you. We are equals.

The problem that we have with leaders is that we all apply our modern celebrity mindset to them. We think that because they are in a movie, they must be happy healthy humans. We all know from the rehab stories that isn’t the case. We do the same thing with leaders, whether in business or church. “Oh, he has manager in his title, he must know all the things and do everything right.” At first look, I think we would all disagree with that. I have had enough experience in the corporate world that tells me it’s true. I have told people something and they fought me. My manager would ask for my email, copy the text and paste it in his email, with his signature and title, and it would be accepted as if it was obviously correct (yes, that really happened).

When it gets to the day to day of being a leader though, your team spends enough time with you to know you’re not perfect. If you try to present yourself as that, they will start talking trash about you and you have lost your credibility with them. If you embrace that you are just another human like them, but with different responsibilities and tasks, it will allow you and them the grace to work with each other.

So, what is a leader? It’s you. It’s me. It’s everyone, because it is nothing…but at the same time leadership is everything. (Oh no, did I just set that up for a sequel?)

If you are wondering which podcast we are trying to collaborate with it is Man Fully Alive Ministries.

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