3 Surprising Truths about Leading Leaders

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Updated from September 30, 2013 post

One of my most embarrassing moments as a leader has turned out to be one of my most important leadership lessons.

It taught me that, if you’re going to be a leader of leaders, there are three vital principles that must be embraced.

I had been assigned with a relatively simple task during my first week as executive pastor of a large church in Canada.

My assignment? Lead an off-site retreat of our senior pastoral team.

This team of highly seasoned leaders were gathered around me, waiting for my opening words. I knew we should open in prayer, so I shrugged at this group of 20 or so leaders and said, “Why don’t you break into groups and spend time in prayer.”

My reasoning was sound, or so it seemed to me. “These are leaders; they don’t need me to tell them how to organize a time of prayer.”

Several awkward moments of shuffling about ensued, and eventually a few muffled words of half-hearted prayer could be heard being whispered about the room.

There was no energy. There was no unity. There was no momentum.

It was, to put it mildly, a less than auspicious debut of my season as a leader of leaders.

But as with any setback, there were leadership learnings to be gleaned. And in this case I came away with three vital principles that must be embraced in order to become a leader of leaders:

1.  Leaders want, and expect, to be led.

Leaders more than anyone understand the value of good leadership. And they look for it in those who step forward to lead them.

2.  Leaders respond to leadership language.

Instead of such a vague, meandering opening, I should have addressed them with leadership language like this: “Team, there are opportunities before us that will only be realized by the mighty hand of God.”

3.  Leaders demand clarity.

Instead of “break into groups and spend time in prayer” I should have said, “Break into groups of 3 and spend 10 minutes praying for these 4 items…”

If you’ve been given the opportunity and responsibility to lead a group of leaders, don’t shrink back. Lift your leadership to the next level and lead them well.

You could be amazed at the passion of their response.

What have you learned about leading leaders?

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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