Archive | September, 2013

CHARACTERISTICS OF LIVING LEADERS (Part 8): DEATH

28 Sep

cemetery

The title of this post resonates, I believe. What does it remind you of? What does it get you thinking about? The picture of a cemetery? An inescapable moment in every organism’s life? Perhaps a hard reality? Yes, that’s what it is—an inescapable, tough reality!

This post is the last in the Characteristics of Living Leaders series. Living leaders are leaders who lead a life of positive influence when they’re available and desire to leave a good legacy after they’re gone. Leadership is a process that starts from where you are. A journey with no specific end. It is influence. And the influence of living leaders knows no bound. Even after death, it remains immortal. And that’s why they are living leaders.

I discovered this leadership principle after I studied the life of Jesus Christ in the ‘Four Gospels.’ My humble discoveries:

  • Jesus is the saviour of the world
  • Jesus is our greatest example—He’s modeled all we need to do to excel both in life and in leadership
  • Jesus is the pioneer of servant leadership
  • Jesus started out as a youngster!

He is a Living Leader…

Now death means different things to different people in different situations. For some, it is an end. For others, it is a brand new start—a beginning. But most times at least for leaders, it means both—an end and a beginning simultaneously. (Obviously, that’s what it meant for our perfect example, Jesus Christ, too.)

Let me tell you how by highlighting few areas you need to die for you to become an effective living leader.

1. Doubt

You remember Jeremiah? What was his greatest obstacle to becoming the leader that God predestined him to become? Yes, you know the answer: Doubt!

“Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child,” he responded to the call to leadership.

He doubted his Creator.

He doubted his destiny.

He doubted his potential.

But wait a moment…Jeremiah later became a living leader. He remains immortalized in Israel’s history. What happened?

He heard God’s reply: “Say not, ‘I am a child.’”

That was the death of his doubt. That was the beginning of his greatness. Because he believed and decided to lead God’s people—His creation.

Over to you. Do you believe that you’re too young for leadership? You have to decide.

2. Self

According to the leadership saying, “The toughest person to lead is yourself.” And just like Plato said, the greatest victory is over self. In all of us is a desire to become legitimate. Many poor leaders have allowed that selfish desire be their drive for leadership. And guess what…their subjects do not appreciate their leadership. Most are forgotten. Few are remembered—remembered for the evil they did.

I bet you don’t want to be that kind of leader or, at least, that kind of individual.

The question is: What do you want people to remember you for?

You see, self is a cruel enemy. No matter how smart you are, it can stop you from becoming the living leader you desire to become. It has a huge potential of limiting your impact, tainting your influence and eventually destroying your legacy as an individual.

And yes, there is also an end and a beginning to self. The end of self-centeredness should be the beginning of selflessness. And that’s the quality of a servant leader. That’s the pathway to becoming a living leader.

While I was drafting this post, I discussed the subject with my friend Peter Babawale via WhatsApp. At first, when I told him my thesis statement, he felt intrigued. After a few explanations, he got the picture and replied in affirmation that death could mean a beginning after an end:

Yes, it’s. You know, even after a tree is cut-down, especially a banana tree. It’s sometimes done by the farmers when (they discover) it’s no longer yielding fruits. It’s not necessary for the root to be in the soil. Yet, it finds a way of sprouting, even in a more efficient way than in the past … Sacrifice is needed to be an effective leader, why? in order to yield a better result. Forgetting oneself and lifting up others automatically will also lift you up one day…

Unfortunately, selflessness doesn’t come easily. It’s almost impossible to become absolutely selfless with sheer effort. However, there’s good news for you—I know a solution to this and I’m going to tell you. Just read on.

3. Faith-draining Relationships

The people you see, meet and chat with almost every day have a huge impact on who you will become. The people you make your models and mentors, the kind of books you read, the genre of music and tapes you listen to, and yes…the movies you see will shape you into who you will become.

In short, the influence you permit will reflect in and through your life. You get the picture?

I want to believe that you’ve come to the end of your doubt, and very soon—I hope after reading this post—you’ll begin a new life of selflessness. Yes, that’s a grand start for the leadership journey! I celebrate with you. And I want you to continue.

That’s why I must tell you this truth. As you decide to improve yourself, to become honest to your calling and begin to influence the right attitudes in the life of every single person you will have the privilege to meet, don’t be caught off guard if you lose some of your old friends. Only those who believe in your dream, hopes and conviction will want to stick with you. Others may be indifferent, and some may do everything to talk you out of your dream.

If you’re convinced enough that what you’ve set out to do is worthwhile, quickly remind yourself that there will be an end to your relationship with your unbelieving friends. Team up with those who you’re left with, accept the new people that will come into your life and make up your mind to never, never, never give up. That way, you’ll become unstoppable.

4. Pride

In the previous part of this series, I mentioned that re-productive leaders never stop learning. In fact, if you call them life-long learners, you will not be wrong. However, what limits the effectiveness of some leaders is because they are in a constant wrestle with their huge ego. Then, you find them wondering why they are not growing both in their life and in leadership.

If you know anybody in this category, maybe, after reading this post, you need to send him or her a text message that reads: I have the long-sought answer to your question. It is something you’ve always known: Swallow your ego and start learning to become humble. It will surprise you how far you can go if you do just that.

Pride is a huge red flag in life and leadership. If you desire to become a living leader, you need to come to a point where you have to beat pride up and let it go.

Why?

Pride will make you unteachable—but you grow by learning.

Pride won’t make you listen to others—but you serve others better when you know their needs.

And if you’ve discovered that your greatest obstacle is pride, maybe you need to reserve the text message and read it to yourself every day.

Now…let me fulfill my promise.

I am aware that the four things I have outlined in this post do not make a comprehensive list of all that an individual needs to die to for him or her become a leader. But I do know that if you can die to all of the four, you’ll be well on your way to leaving a good legacy for the generation of leaders that will come after you.

And about dying to self.

There is an initial truth I must tell you if you want to be free from self. Man, by nature, has a limited control over himself, his environment, the attitude of other people, what happens to him, the realities that the future holds…and I can go on and on. But the point is, in fact, man’s control over what he experiences within the few days of his life is absolutely limited.

And because God, the Creator, saw man’s hopeless situation and his helpless effort to tame self—the mess that his (man’s) enemy, the devil, got him (man) into—He sent His Son to die for the him (man). That death of the Perfect Master on the cross was the victory over self.

Now, there is a company of people who are under the leadership of the Saviour who have won the battle over self and sin, and they are constantly benefitting from His victory every single day.

That’s not all.

They also enjoy something rare—an eternal life. That means a life of victory here-and-now and an assurance of glory hereafter. They have a new life after death!

Are you yet in that number?

What I mean is: Are you born-again?

If not, are you ready to win the battle over self—starting from today?

Have you come to the end of your doubt?

How will you respond to the Master’s call of salvation? Remember Jeremiah?

Will you accept and receive Jesus, the Saviour of the entire world, right now?

Here’s how:

  • End the struggle
  • Accept the reality that man’s effort is limited
  • Call for help
  • Yield yourself
  • Allow Jesus captain your soul
  • Believe everyone is created by God and treat them so
  • Realize you don’t have a life of your own

And that’s the key to being dead to self and becoming a living leader!

Reflection: Do you ‘have’ all of the characteristics of living leaders—Movement, Respiration, Nutrition, Irritability, Growth, Excretion, Reproduction, Death—intact?

 

Is there any of them you consider as your strength zone?

Is there any of them you need to improve on?

Thanks for the time you’ve invested into reading this post. I will love to hear from you.

Question?

Contribution?

Comment?

CHARACTERISTICS OF LIVING LEADERS (Part7): REPRODUCTION

27 Sep

Mum and son

That you are reading this post means you are a result of the reproductive process. And there’s no better truth than that. Life continues because God is not going to withdraw man’s ability to produce and re-produce anything under his control.

I am a student of Biochemistry (yes, already a Biochemist), and one of my favourite classes is the Biology class—and I don’t mind if that’s not true for you. However, if you’ve ever sat in a Biology class, you know that topic most godly teachers wouldn’t want to teach with a smile—Reproduction! And some students love the topic. Even though they still fairly answer questions well on it in the examination hall, they just want to enjoy the class.

However, living leaders—leaders who want to leave a good legacy and desire that their influence outlive them—raise people after their kind before their time is up. They pass on their burning torch to the next generation. And as a result, they get something going that is life-transforming to the generation of people that come years after they have left.

1. They never stop learning.

Leaders cannot underestimate the value of continuous improvement. Because they want to get better, they expose themselves to daily growth and are always teachable.

They learn from their experiences and those of other people. Whenever they make mistakes, they take no pleasure in playing the blame game. They simply admit their mistakes, learn from them and move on.

They also value books. Perhaps the best gift you can give to a leader is a book.

If you also desire to start becoming a leader, you need to do what they do. You need to be intentional about growing in the area of your strength. Learn all you can about what you consider to become. The first step to getting to anywhere from where you are is to know where you are going. After knowing your destination, then you have to do everything it takes to get there. That’s growth.

2. They stand for something.

Just because you want to be well rounded does not mean you must know everything about anything. First, you need to realize and admit that it is not a realistic goal to desire to know everything—especially things that won’t do you any good. Second, effective leaders are very careful about the kind of influence they permit in their lives.

For example, if you desire to become a clergy, all the books and tapes on atheism are not good resources for you. They are contrary to your faith in God and would do you more harm than good (if any). Your job is to tell people that God is their Creator, He exists, and He loves them; to teach all that God expects from them and think about the people under your leadership.

Maybe you even have the opportunity to be the Youth/Teen’s Leader in your local church; you don’t need me to tell you that that’s your job. And the reason you lead those youngsters is because you have a belief that you stand for and are willing to defend even when you’re going through the fire. If you continue to expose yourself to all sorts of influence that contradicts your faith, you’ll start diminishing in your commitment and effectiveness. And if you’re not careful enough, you can begin to doubt what you believe and finally fall to the wind of the influence that constantly storms you.

As you continue to improve in the area you’re most talented, several opportunities will come your way. What you do with those opportunities can either build you up or tear you down—depending on their significance. If you truly want to be reproductive, then seize only those opportunities that will strengthen your resolve to stand for what you believe and increase your chances to pass on your conviction to the next generation.

3. They live what they believe.

It’s great for you and me to have something that we stand for. That shows how prepared we are for success in life and leadership. However, to develop other people requires more than your intrinsic values that makes you a better person. You need to live those values and lead by example.

Back in school, I have the privilege to co-find an all-round development team with my friends, Samuel and Israel. At KIST! we have some of the most amazing youngsters you can ever meet on the planet. We love to learn from each other, complete ourselves and grow together. As a result, we hold occasional round table discussions on Saturdays, and I’ve always found these sessions very helpful.

One Saturday when we were discussing influence—one of our four core practices—as a key to making a difference in the lives of other youngsters, a teammate was asked how he could help influence some positive attitudes into the lives of other youngsters around him. His response sums it up: “Teaching them how to solve their problems by handling my life well.”

You see, the point is that when it comes to being productive, what you do is more important than what you believe, say, write and teach.

4. They talk their walk.

When you begin to think about making a difference in the lives of the people who look up to you, then you’ll discover their growing interest in you and how much they want to know how you do what you do. You start becoming their hero and they become fascinated. If you live your beliefs long enough, the younger generation will start believing in you. And because you’ve gained credibility with them, they will love to do some of the things they see you doing. That marks the beginning of your success as a leader—no matter what age you are.

Now that’s a remarkable moment in your leadership history. But it just doesn’t make the process complete. You have to feed their curiosity. Teach them some of most hard-won lessons you’ve learned. Let them know what it takes to start and take the journey. Tell them why you believe what you believe. Tell them the reason for doing what you do. And most important, show them how you achieved what you’ve achieved—and how they, too, can achieve something more by themselves.

There is no better way to raise another generation of effective young leaders than letting that glowing torch of influence in your hand burn and light the way for the other youngsters coming behind you. You have no idea how invaluable your light of positive influence is until you let it shine and protect it from going off.

_________________________________

Reflection: What kind of torch are you lighting? Which way are you headed? Are you teachable? Do you have a conviction you stand for? Are you living a life that is consistent with your believe? Are you helping other people find their direction?

Is there any other way re-productive leaders help succeeding generation find their path?

I will be glad to learn from you. Simply leave a reply in the comments section below. Thanks for your time.

CHARACTERISTICS OF LIVING LEADERS (Part 6): EXCRETION

15 Sep

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” — 1 Corinthians 13:11, AMP

 

As leaders ascend the ladder of effectiveness, they make mistakes, they learn, they discover, adjust and grow. And for young, inexperienced leaders, this is an important phase of the leadership journey.

Yes, you read the topic correctly—leaders excrete. Well…perhaps it’s not what you’re thinking. For this post, the term excretion is used to describe a “getting rid of ____ (insert any silly habit)” process. Therefore, what I actually mean is that leaders get rid of the stuff—habits and assumptions—they find will place a lid on their abilities, limit their influence and have a negative impact on the legacy they desire to leave on the sands of time.

Eagleflair Consulting Ltd. consultant Cecilia Odok observed, “Most of life is habitual: we do the same things repeatedly. There are some habits that are labeled as bad while others are referred to as good.” As soon as they discover any of these negative labels, effective leaders—both young and adult—don’t hesitate to hit the “Delete” button. These labels are in form of heavy baggage of undesirable habits. They simply give up these habits for them to grow up and go up.  They also model the good habits by doing their best to make sure that they constantly put to check these four aspects of their lives. Effective leaders are continually improving . . .

1. Mentally

Everybody obviously feels secure to work with a mentally balanced leader. On the other hand, nobody will like to stay around a leader who has no clue about what to do when things begin to drift off course.

Leaders need a good mental conditioning to lead well and get their team to achieve anything worthwhile. You know the saying, “If the head is sick, the whole body is also ill.” A good mental conditioning allows leaders to think ahead, figure out solutions, solve problems and delegate duties appropriately to the people working with them.

To maintain and improve your mental conditioning, you need to spend less time thinking about problems and more time on positive options that will advance your team. Negative thinking is not only a bad habit; it is toxic and unhealthy. As you develop your leadership skill, remember to put aside negative thoughts and remain upbeat always.

2. Emotionally

Man is an emotional being, and that’s a fact. No matter how hard you try, you cannot “kill” your emotions. That’s how God created us, and we have no choice rather than accept the fact. But, fortunately, the good news is that you can manage your emotions. This is one area every leader finds difficult at first. If you however decide to start keeping a watch on it, and you manage that decision daily, I can assure you that taming your emotions won’t appear to be all that difficult any longer.

People who can handle criticisms, hold on under fire, spring back to their feet after a great fall without losing enthusiasm are said to have strong emotions. People with weak emotions can’t (or if they can, they simply don’t). They have no inner power. They go up and down with life. When things are rosy, you can pick them out of the crowd—yes, that individual over there with a huge smile across his face. Likewise, they aren’t difficult to identify when things start getting tough. They carry this colossal frown on their face as if they’ve never smiled all of their life.

How do you deal with the realities of life? How do you relate with the difficult people on your team? Do you patiently see the situation through their eyes and give them a positive response that tells them that you sincerely understand? Or do you just react immediately without considering the consequences of your actions?

Whenever I find myself in such situations, I often remind myself that it’s time to be tested. It’s either I let my emotions rule me and, sure enough, will get an immediate gratification; or I subscribe to a better option, act like the bigger person and rule over my emotions by focusing on the ultimate goal. Learn to manage your emotions well. Don’t just let your boiling emotions erupt. It could ruin your reputation in less time than it will take the volcanic molten magma to destroy a whole country.

3. Physically

Many youngsters need to be more intentional about improving on this area. It has to do with your appearance. If you desire to make any positive impact in the lives of every person you get the privilege to meet daily, you need not to be told to start showing up like a serious business personnel, responsible congressional representative, and in fact, if you don’t mind, like clergies appear!

I want to encourage you to let go of all the ‘wizzie’ jeans and ‘spaghetti’ dresses for the ‘small boys and chics’ to bubble with. The real ‘big boys and girls’ are often responsible ladies and gentle-men. They appear professional all the time, smart and simple—not gorgeous and gawky.

4. Spiritually

If there is one startling secret I know about great leaders, it will be that they are all spiritual. (Yea, all. And I mean it.) You may never find this in a secular book on leadership, but it’s the secret that is left untold. They draw strength from beyond-human powers. Some occultic. Some divine.

You see, you need to understand that the leader’s true personality is built behind the scenes. Leaders plan and prepare behind closed doors. Some pray to God. Some offer sacrifices to some unknown gods. Whichever way, I’m sure you get my point: great leaders all have a certain spiritual backup.

You and I need to start desiring to know more of God as we make progress on the leadership journey. You need to start learning to put your whole trust in God, constantly reverence His magnificence and keep growing in His grace and in the knowledge of Christ. You need to make a commitment to never disappoint Him in any way. Praise and appreciate Him daily for the privilege to witness the breaking of every day and the numerous opportunities to make a difference in the lives of other people who come your way. Be willing to say “no” to immoral acts—God hates sin! And if we as leaders must have a flawless victory and all-round growth, we must seek the Holy Spirit’s assistance to help us with this. Obviously, the only way a man can become limitless is when he has a limitless Tour Guide as he travels on.

_________________________________________________________________

Reflection: Which of these four areas do you need to improve? Which of them are you already doing great at? Is there any other aspect that will require leaders to use the “Delete” button on for them to reach their potential? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

%d bloggers like this: