Products of Our Leadership
Blog / Produced by The High CallingWe may not care to admit it, but we are heavily influenced by those who lead us every day. Employees reporting to managers, managers reporting to directors, directors reporting to vice presidents—we all tend to take on the qualities of our leaders.
One of my mentors had a favorite saying: "We're all a product of our leadership." I think that's true. As a consultant, I see it all of the time. Each of us will always be unique as individuals. But given enough time, most of us take on qualities similar to those who lead us. As leaders, those who report to us are products of how we manage—a sort of mirror of ourselves.
So how can we live out the gospel in the workplace and still be strong leaders who can make the difficult decisions? This is a tough question and goes to the heart of why so many Christian leaders feel stress as they manage others.
Jesus led with grace and mercy. Remember the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery? She would have lost her life if not for Jesus' intervention. Jesus quickly put her accusers in their place. Then when the dust settled, he showed mercy.
After her accusers had departed, he asked, "Where have they gone?"
"They have all departed," the woman replied.
Jesus answered, "Then neither do I condemn you." (John 8)
But Jesus led with authority, too. He never minced words or tried to water down the situation. His final instruction to the woman was direct and to the point—"Go now and leave your life of sin" (vs. 11). Certainly, there was no mistaking where Jesus stood. Jesus showed both mercy and authority.
It also strikes me that Jesus reacted differently to each circumstance he encountered. Each case brought a different response. While His boundaries of authority and mercy were always well-defined, His method of responding to people—of applying authority and mercy—changed depending on each circumstance. This flexibility reveals leadership to be something beyond mere rules of engagement. Jesus had a personal passion for helping others one-on-one.
If we are to model Jesus, we must balance authority and grace. But we must also pay close attention to the uniqueness of every problem and every individual. We must develop a passion for the growth of each individual. I wish Jesus had given us a simple, one-step-takes-care-of-all model, a formula that fits all problems. But he didn't. Such a formula doesn't exist. Instead, strong leaders take the time to understand the needs of each situation and each individual. They do this by praying for wisdom.
If we practice such vigilance, we will discover our unique leadership styles. Those who serve under us will take on the image we project on their lives. They will treat others the way we treat them. If we show a passion for helping others sort through the land mines of the workplace, they will develop a similar passion.
Can you think of anything better than to look back and see people we managed become a product of that kind of leadership?