Aug 302020 1 Response

Good Leaders Are Easily Led

For years, one of the first people in our church building on a Sunday morning was a couple who founded a bank. He was the CEO. Yet every Sunday they would carry in boxes of doughnuts they picked up at Wal-Mart, turn the lights on, and start making coffee for the hundreds of attendees who would show up an hour later. Before the morning was over and the lights were turned out, the couple would diligently clean the space and make sure it was ready for whoever used it that week.

Their story is not unique.

Through a couple of decades of pastoring, I’ve noticed a pattern–good leaders are easily led. The bank CEO making coffee, the successful entrepreneur blowing the leaves off the sidewalk, the Hall of Fame football coach grabbing an umbrella to escort someone through the rain, and the retired millionaire quietly moving chairs so everything will be set just right are a few examples of successful people being easily led.

They show up early, prepared, energetic, passionate, and engaged. Easily led doesn’t mean they blindly follow. If they have a question, they will ask it. If they see a need, they will point it out as they offer to meet it. Good leaders are the best people to lead. (See: What No One Ever Tells You About Being a Leader)

Why?

Because they know how hard it is to lead. They especially know how hard it is to lead others who are defiant, resistant, apathetic, or entitled.

As many examples as I can list of good leaders being easily led, I have an equal amount of images of bad leaders being difficult to lead–the middle manager who has been passed over a few times for a promotion who refuses to volunteer unless he is in charge, the coach with the average record who tries to demand his way even when it’s outside of his area of expertise, the entrepreneur who just doesn’t feel as though working with kids is worth his time.

You don’t want a bad leader on your team. Huddle with your group of volunteers and a bad leader will be whispering to others or on their phone. Try to delegate tasks to each person and a bad leader will resent whatever you give them. Want to instill energy and passion with the group, a bad leader will allow their skepticism and cynicism to bleed onto everyone else.

Bad leaders are not easily led.

Good leaders are.

Knowing how difficult it is to lead, good leaders are all-in even when they aren’t in charge. They listen, engage, activate, bring passion, submit, serve, and do whatever they can to help other leaders thrive. Bad leaders don’t. They undermine, doubt, and discourage.  They are difficult to lead, but then wonder why they struggle to lead.

Being easily led is a trait for good leaders; it also should be a common trait for Christians. Our faith should make us better followers. Submission is an integral part of faith. We submit to God and to one another. This empowers us to be better followers which in turn should make us better leaders. Humility empowers us to lead; pride prevents it. Being difficult to lead is a sign that someone is filled with pride. Their entitlement, arrogance, and blindness to their true selves prevent them from easily following those who are in charge. It’s all pride.

Humility empowers us to follow and lead. It allows us to submit when necessary without feeling personally slighted and it compels us to lead others without over-inflating our self-worth. Bad leaders are too prideful to follow; good leaders are humble enough to follow and be followed. (See: Who Wants to Be a Leader?)

If you can’t submit, you can’t lead. Not effectively. You might be able to force your way in certain circumstances and think you are doing a good job, but it is not true leadership.

Good leaders are easily led. Are you a good leader?

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