I am often asked about the leadership culture at the Willow Creek Association.
The best word I often find myself using to describe this culture is that of being “generous”. There is a natural bent among my teammates to give of themselves to one another in order to ensure the achievement of the organization’s vision.
And this raises an interesting question for any leader to wrestle with; in your leadership, are you a hoarder, a lender or a giver?
How you answer that question will go a long way to determining what kind of impact you’ll have.
The hoarding leader
This is someone who devours leadership learnings, but keeps it all to themselves. Rather than investing their knowledge and experience in other rising leaders, the hoarding leader will simply amass more and more leadership knowledge.
Sometimes they’ll toss out some leadership nuggets they’ve picked up someplace, or they’ll casually mention the title of the latest leadership book they’ve read, but this will be more to impress people than to build into them.
Ultimately the hoarding leader will have almost no impact. They’ll just keep reading leadership books (and blogs), they’ll listen to leadership podcasts and they’ll attend leadership conferences.
But no one else will derive any benefit from any of it.
The lending leader
This person is a notch better than the hoarding leader. But not by much.
They will indeed share their leadership insights with others. And these lending leaders will do so in the hope that others will develop as a result.
But lending leaders have an agenda. Like a money lender, lending leaders expect something in return. While they will invest in rising leaders, their hope will be that this investment will yield dividends that will benefit themselves in some way.
The giving leader
Ultimately, it is only the giving leader who will make a lasting impact.
That’s because giving leaders selflessly invest all of who they are in the development of others, with no thought to any personal reward.
Giving leaders are driven only by the desire to see other leaders grow, mature and develop. Giving leaders recognize that the investments they have received are not meant to be either hoarded or exchanged. They know that their experiences and learnings are a gift that must be shared.
So they’ll study leadership and they’ll learn everything they can from their own experiences. Then they’ll take this rich investment and they’ll pour it into the development of rising leaders around them.
So, once again, what kind of leader are you?
If you truly desire to make a positive, lasting impact, the only route is to be the kind who gives it all away.
How do you give away your leadership?
Updated from October 9, 2014 post