What is the best way to gauge the effectiveness of our leadership? I would say it is how the people you lead follow you. There is a quote I heard somewhere, and for the life of me I cannot remember where I heard it, “A leader without followers is just a guy out taking a walk.” This is very true.
The people that we lead are basically a mirror of our own leadership. What do I mean by this? The leader of any organization has to cast the vision. If there is no vision it is like setting out on a cross country trip without a map or a gps. Sure you will get there, eventually, but it will not be easy. The leader needs to cast, and then re-cast the vision. There should be no question where you are headed and how you are going to get there.
A leadership lesson that is always hard to learn is when it is time to modify your vision. In politics when someone changes their position they are called a flip flopper. I think this is an unfair characteristic. If someone changes their position because new information has come to light, I don’t call that flip flopping I call that leadership! The classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome. A good leader knows how to listen and how to adjust their position. This is a skill I am constantly working on.
When taking the oath of enlistment in the military, you swear to obey the lawful orders of those appointed over you. You have to follow them or you will face the consequences. When I was in the US Army there were many people appointed over me as leaders. I always found it easier to follow those who would not do anything that they were not willing to do themselves. A good leader not only knows what those he leads do, they are willing to get in there and do it!
In the Army one never retreats one has a “tactical re deployment of assets.” Re deployment is not failure it is a recognition that the original plan is not working and we need to try something different. However, if this re deployment is going to work the entire team has to know what is going on.
One of the more famous quotes from Mahatma Gandhi “be the change you want to see in the world” still holds as true today as the day he spoke it. I don’t believe he was speaking specifically about leadership but it does come into play in this discussion.
Be the change we want to see. As a Church leader, if I want my parishioners to read more Scripture, I need to read more Scripture. If I want them to be more attentive at Liturgy, I need to be more attentive at Liturgy. If I want them to go to confession more, than I need to go to confession more. The people you lead are going to follow the tone that you set; you want to change their tone? Than change yours! It’s that simple.