The world we live in is starving for transparent leaders. It doesn’t take long to hear the clamor for people of integrity, humility, and inspiration, over the false substitutes that foist personal agendas, politicking, and favor-trading over the well-being of their organization and the people within it.
Yet most leaders violate what I jokingly like to call the 11th Commandment; “Thou Shalt Not Kid Thyself”. Quite simply, they are not honest with their abilities and potential shortcomings, and do not ask the tough questions of themselves. Questions that will bring them to the mirror of who they are at the core, and quite possibly lead to an inventory of changes that will only enable them to improve and become greater and more effective at leading.
In reading the great theological leadership book “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders, there are posed a great number of questions that challenge the leader to examine themselves and to discover the leadership potential within. These are great questions for ANYONE looking to grow as a leader. Ask yourself these questions in an honest vein:
- Have you ever broken a bad habit? To lead others, you must master your appetites.
- Do you keep self-control when things go wrong? The leader who loses control under adversity forfeits respect and influence. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
- Do you think independently? A leader must use the best ideas of others to make decisions. A leader cannot wait for others to make up his or her mind.
- Can you handle criticism? Can you profit from it? The humble person can learn from petty criticism, even malicious criticism.
- Can you turn disappointment into creative new opportunity?
- Do you readily gain the cooperation of others and win their respect and confidence?
- Can you exert discipline without making a power play? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and needs no show of external force.
- Are you a peacemaker? A leader must be able to reconcile with opponents and make peace where arguments have created hostility.
- Do people trust you with difficult and delicate situations?
- Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate things that they would not normally wish to do?
- Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without taking offense? Leaders always face opposition.
- Can you make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of your leadership potential.
- Do you depend on the praise of others to keep you going? Can you hold steady in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
- Are you at ease in the presence of strangers? Do you get nervous in the presence of your superior?
- Are the people who report to you generally at ease? A leader should be sympathetic and friendly.
- Are you interested in people? All types? All races? No prejudice?
- Are you tactful? Can you anticipate how your words will affect a person?
- Is your will strong and steady? Leaders cannot vacillate or cannot drift in the wind.
- Can you forgive? Or do you nurse resentments and harbor ill-feelings toward those who have injured you?
- Are you reasonably optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix.
- Do you feel a master passion such as that of Paul, who said, “This one thing I do!” Such a singleness of motive will focus your energies and powers on the desired objective. Leaders need a strong focus.
- Do you welcome responsibility?
“How we handle relationships tells a lot about our potential for leadership. R. E. Thompson suggests these tests:
- Do other people’s failures annoy or challenge you?
- Do you “use” people, or cultivate people?
- Do you direct people, or develop people?
- Do you criticize, or encourage?
- Do you shun or seek out the person with a special need or problem?
Sanders continues in his book: “These tests mean little unless we act or correct our deficits and fill in the gaps of our training. Perhaps the final test of leadership potential is whether you “sit” on the results of such analysis or do something about it. […] Adding leadership potential to our lives usually requires that we shake off negative elements that hold us back.” He further goes on to tell the burgeoning leader that any of these negatives simply “must go”.
So, dear leader, we need to ask the tough questions of ourselves – how do we measure up to the standards of a true leader? Are we willing to look at ourselves honestly and truthfully? Are we willing to let go of the negative “must go” habits that hold us back? Are we willing to make those necessary changes to improve our lives and the lives of those who rely on us?
Let’s not miss this opportunity to become better. Be tough. Ask. Realize. Do.
(image courtesy of newconsultanthq.com)