We have 5 children in our home ages 11 and down. My wife and I feel at times like all we do is put out fires. One minute someone’s got to go potty, the next minute two are fighting, and in the next breath somebody lost their homework. It seems as though it just goes on and on and on!
Do you ever feel like this in leadership? Whether it’s parenting or running a fortune 500 company, if you’re not careful you will spend your entire existence just trying to solve problems. Sadly, this is how some people lead; they lead from behind.
Leading from behind is reactive leadership. Instead of leading from a clear purpose and priority list it’s merely fixing what’s in front of you. What are your long term goals and how are you intentionally moving forward in accomplishing them? The Lord wants us to lead from the front not from behind. He wants us to respond to problems with intent not react to them in insecurity. Here are some differences between leading from behind and leading from the front.
SHAPING CULTURE VS. CORRECTING BEHAVIOR
This is where our core values become so important. What are the values you are trying to instill in the organization or people you lead? In the family context, what are the values you are teaching your children? These values must shape our communication and discipline strategies. We can raise obedient children, but they may never become missional leaders for Christ. In your business, what values are you communicating and instilling. It’s not exact performance of tasks we should be after; it’s promoting the values of the organization. As a leader I want to shape the culture so that the people I lead exude the proper attitudes and share the right goals instead of just regurgitating behaviors.
CASTING VISION VS. ADDRESSING PROBLEMS
Where are you taking the people you lead? What is the compelling picture of a God-honoring future that you have placed in their mind? Our staff meetings have turned into discussions about mission and vision accomplishment more than a laundry list of problems to fix. I’ve found that when I make my laundry list of stuff to fix I’m often times in my old critical flesh instead of operating out of the Spirit. In my home, what do we truly want our children to become? What do we want to have accomplished as a family for God’s Kingdom when our children leave the nest? True leaders paint pictures of a compelling vision and inspire those they lead to pursue them.
DEVELOPING PEOPLE VS. TASK ORIENTATION
I’ve said before that we can’t complain about what we don’t train. If we don’t train those we lead on the purpose, mission, core values, and vision of the organization and how their department fits into that, then we should abstain from complaining about their lack of performance. Life is much less about performance and much more about development. Jesus developed people, and as a result 12 men rocked the world for His glory! What could those under our leadership do for Christ if we put their development above our agenda? This is so true in business, organizational life, and the home.
The moral of the story is don’t lead from behind! Seek the Lord in prayer, get a compelling vision from Him, then inspire others to pursue that. Develop people and challenge them to live out Christ-like values and God will take care of the rest!