Lessons in Leadership: 5 Things We All Need to Know, but Often Forget

I grew up as the youngest in a family of four.

When it came down to making decisions as a family there was practically no decision more difficult than determining where to go out to eat. In most cases, this conversation would be held on a Sunday, after church. 

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My dad and my sister (who was the oldest) were the more headstrong in my family, which usually meant the two of them making ample, even argumentative suggestions of what we should all consume. 

My mom, who was the culinary genius, was fine with whatever, but would usually default to some form of asian cuisine. We all knew when she ordered there would typically be an amendment to an ingredient(s) in the food itself. 

Of course, before this could happen, there would have to be a small war between my sister and my dad boisterously expressing why they demanded to eat at their favorite restaurant and why the other person's suggestion was entirely unacceptable.

Then there was me. 

The youngest in the family…who in lieu of loving them, hated this whole dilemma and would much rather settle for something with waffle fries (yum!) than to endure one more minute of circular, decision making. 

My conclusion? God, why can’t Chick-Fil-A be open on Sundays?

Naturally, I took the path of least resistance. By the time we had all arrived at a decision, which usually meant eating Mexican food, I was so happy to eat that I didn’t really care. 

As ridiculous as those moments were (which I miss, some days), time with my family was a proving ground for how I would later make decisions in my life. 

There was no grave consequence for the times when it was just me. But as time progressed, I found myself being advanced into position of leadership with: coaching soccer, teaching, church, entrepreneurship, etc. Once other people came into the picture, I learned quickly that each and every decision had a more drastic effect and that being passive, was not a viable option. 

Whether you realize it or not, there will come moments where you’ll have to lead. Maybe it will be with your family or on an athletic team or in the business arena, but there will come a time where its on you to make the call.

 

Here’s a few quick reminders to consider when its your turn to call the shots:

 

1. People are Your Most Valuable Resource. 

I get it. You’re kinda awesome and you can do some pretty uber-awesome things. But your effort is only as strong as those who can help sustain it. Without people to help build the vision and maintain it, you’re still just a solo act. 

Leadership means having a team mentality, so think “We,” not “Me.”

 

2. Go Out of Your Way to Invest.

You can wait for all eternity for the right people to show up, or you can start looking right where you are. The leaders you need are there, but you have to groom them. If you're not grooming leaders from within, then you have no reason to complain about the lack of help. People will follow the one who leads. 

Most people have a preference in either being told what to do or being in control. There’s leadership potential in those who like to take charge. Make an appeal for their help, then guide their interest by giving them something to own and room to run.

 

3. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

Unwillingness to relent a task by giving it to someone else will bottleneck your productivity. You can do a few things well or you can struggle with it all. Let people own it, even if they fail. A true sign of your leadership is not whether your idea flies or dies, but whether someone else is able to carry it out themselves. 

Teach, correct, invest, and trust. 

Failing to train others is often indicates that you believe you’re the only one who can do it right. (this is pride), in which case no one else ever gets to. If you don't plan with other people in mind, you're not stewarding your resources very well.

 

4. Find Every Reason to Celebrate Others.

Remember that time someone went out of their way to make you feel super special? Isn’t it crazy how the memory of that moment and how it made you feel lingers with you to this day? Yes, the world is a pretty broken, negative place. All the more reason to lift up, build up, encourage, and celebrate others for what they do right. 

Don't hold back your praise for a job well done.

This is particularly valuable when you’re dealing with someone who’s down and out because they know they’ve messed up. Most of us know when we’ve dropped the ball. Hang your praise upon their high notes. Turn your focus to celebrating what they’re getting right and watch how it infects the other aspects of their life. 

Still stumped? You can send a small gift card. You can buy their lunch or give them a choice book to help them through their present predicament. It doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day. Look for every moment to do so.

 

5. Serve First.

Humility - its the most important thing there is. 

If there’s a ditch to dig, then start digging. Don’t wait for permission to do what’s obvious. Take the initiative, roll up your sleeves, and start serving. 

Critics talk about the problem. Leaders actively pursue a solution to the problem. Anyone who does otherwise is just exaggerating the circumstance. If you’ll take the initiative, others will follow…and chances are, they’ll model your example. 

A servant leader is a leader of the best kind. 

There’s no graduating from the responsibility that comes with leading. Everyone has some sphere of influence.

In following these principles, you’ll discover how they unite people to a common vision. 

Our gifts, in service together, unite us in purpose and community. This is how you outgrow yourself. This is how it becomes about more than just you.

Any man can leave a vacancy, but wouldn’t you rather build a legacy to last beyond your years?

 

What's your take on leadership? Let me know in the comments below, or if you like, "Share" this article with a friend.

 

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