Fifty weeks a year we focus on how to be better leaders. This week, I’d like to ask you a question that may change the way you live your life forever. The question is, how do choose the leaders you follow? It seems simple, but its implication can not only change your life, but that of the community and, ultimately, the world. It is the one question I can’t help you answer, but I would like an opportunity to share with you the qualities of the people I choose to follow.
There are four qualities a leader I follow must possess. It’s a wish list of sorts. I have known men and women who possess these traits. They provide me with a framework of qualities that serving leaders possess. Some of these people you know and many others you don’t. My philosophy on life has been shaped these values from a very early age and they continue to help me make my decisions for the rest of my life.
The first quality I look for in a leader is compassion. The men and women I look up to are all compassionate. Compassionate people care for others. They are willing to give up some part of who they are to take care of others. For many, compassion is a hard quality to master because it requires a soft heart and sometimes a hard head. Compassion means that you can understand what the other is going through. It doesn’t mean you won’t challenge the status quo to allow a person to be less than they can be.
This leads to the second quality of the people I follow, courage. If you want to be a leader today you must possess courage. Courage is the ability to stand for what you believe. Courage has provided many leaders the ability to stand against great odds and persist. Courage means that a leader is all in. They don’t falter when their society or their community does not believe in the things that they do. The other thing about courage is that is can be found equally in large and small things. Robert Kennedy once said “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can change a small portion of events…It is from numberless acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.” If we choose to have courage, our world will never be the same.
The third quality of the people I follow is they have clarity. The people I love to work with are crystal clear on how they see the world. They are able to share their point of view and perspectives on issues and challenges very quickly. This clarity allows them to achieve more results in a short time than many other people achieve over their lifetimes.
Their clarity provides them with a road map to how they live their lives. They see their time as the only resource of which they can’t create more. There is a secret that many people don’t understand about clarity. It is that clarity is as much about what you choose not to do as what you choose to do. The leaders I follow are clear about where they invest their time and energy.
The final quality of the leaders I follow is they master change. These individuals don’t just respond to changing times, they create the change they want in the world. They are proactive change-masters. They are willing to take on things head on. Leaders who embrace change are willing to learn and grow every day. This means they are the catalyst for a more powerful tomorrow. In times of rapid change, it is critical for leaders to help their followers understand the cost that must be paid to make change permanent. The leaders I follow are willing to help educate others on the nature of change and how we must all change the way we see things.
In closing, as we celebrate this Easter week, I share the first person I chose to follow. I choose to follow this leader because he exhibits the qualities I look for most in a leader. He provides me with inspiration and challenges me to become more like him every day. His name was Jesus and we celebrate his life and resurrection this weekend. Have a Happy Easter.