Leadership is my opiate. This analogy, although crude, gives one the sense that an exceptional leader must be addicted to the need to lead. There are many activities that men and women come to find as enjoyable. Many enjoy golf, some love the theatre, and still others long for the outdoors. Leaders have a God induced need to lead. Several years while we were at breakfast Evangelist and Author Nicky Cruz made a profound statement that would surprise many. He told this author that ministry is his mistress. My knee jerk reaction was a subdued shock. Today after having tasted the victories and defeats, and the highs and lows, despite the vicissitudes of life, I too have the mistress Nicky has. I am in complete agreement with Nicky Cruz. Currently and thankfully, ministry quells my need to lead.
Why Does One Chose Leadership?
The unknown is and attraction. Having the need to lead does not prepare one for the reality of leadership. Many define leadership and the definitions all hold much truth. Fundamentally, leadership is influence and the ability to gain followers. Regardless of the mechanics of the task, a leader needs followers. The mechanics of leadership differs from situation to situation but the ability to move people to accomplish a goal rests on the leader’s influence.
Understanding the Leadership Process
Dr. Kevin Leman in his book the way of the Shepherd says that “one must know the condition of the flock and follow the status of your people as well as the status of the work” (Lehman, 2004, page 28). Leman also states that a bad leader will focus too much on his or her projects and not enough on the people.
The process of the leader and follower relationship rests around the concept of influence. In any line of work, people are paramount and good leader must raise money, personnel, and morale. People make all goals possible. Whether at GE or Victory Outreach, people make things happen, people set the tone, and people make the leader. The dance between a leader and his or her follower if done properly can be a hard driven flamingo or a loose unattached twist. Good leaders choreograph best business practice towards the desired outcome. Leadership is influence or the ability to obtain followers. John Maxwell writes in his book, the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, says, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk (Campbell, 2008)”.
My habit to lead is not yet cured. Perhaps I am incurable. Whatever the case may be, the influence one experiences in a leadership role is quite satisfying. One obvious danger is an untrustworthy leader. If one is to obtain followers by influence, the follower must have confidence in the person they allow to lead them. Confidence and integrity are synonymous. All can agree that integrity builds trust. Good leaders do not merely look for a position to meet a personal need; good leaders build people’s trust. Will Rogers says, "People’s minds are changed through observations and not argument.”
I unknowingly began the process, early in my life. As a 17 year old musician, I was the leader of the Band. In High school I was the quarterback. When I rebelled, I became the gang leader. Thankfully, I came to my senses and joined the Army. To this day, the military set the stage for my leadership ability. Shortly thereafter, I became a people watcher.
What makes people tick and how can I get done what I wanted done were daily question yet to be answered. My first introduction to my questions came in the form of an interpersonal relationship course I attended in 1988 as a photo copier technician for OMI. The course taught me that I could take control of a situation by merely phrasing my words correctly, using kinesics positively, and looking the part. In essence I could take charge and lead everyone involved in a given situation towards a positive outcome; what a thrill. The use of rhetoric was deeply established during my service technician years. I was on my road towards leadership.
After attending Bible College, I accepted the call to be the assistant pastor at Victory Outreach Hayward. This move radically changed my career plans. Now I was leading a group of misfits we call Treasures out of Darkness. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 rightly describes my parish.
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things —
and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are,
29 so that no one may boast before him (Holy Bible, 1984).
Why I chose to study leadership? The foolish, the weak, the lowly and the despised are Treasures out of Darkness. Those inner-city families trapped in the deviant lifestyles that permeate every major city of the world. I thought, “These Gang members, drug addicts, and prostitutes are looking for someone to interrupt their miserable lives, and hoping for a second chance.” I fully understand the ancient writer when he penned that the people are lost like sheep without a shepherd (Holy Bible, 1984, 1 Peter 2:25).
Holy Bible, (1984) 1 Peter 2:25, new international version, international bible society
Lehman, K., Pentak, The Way of the Shepherd: Seven Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive
People. Zondervan, 2004
Campbell, P. Executive Summary: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Retrieved
February 10, 2008 http://perspective.org.au/book/202/executive-summary-the-21-