Friday, January 27, 2017

What is a Leader?

I have been thinking a lot over the last few weeks on leadership. I think it's an important question, and one that I believe a lot of people do not have a proper understanding of. What sparked my thoughts on this subject was a note on a white board at work where someone wrote the question "Is following the new leading?" and drew a box around it to draw attention to it. The question has been up for months now, and every time I see it I find my self considering what is meant by it. I thought often of why there needed to be a distinction between leading and following many years ago when on the job-hunt and filling out an application. The application asked if I was a follower or leader, and I was completely stumped. I am not a leader- I dislike being in charge and am soft-spoken and not confident or bossy. Yet I don't follow, either. I have always done my own thing. Obviously, in a situation where morals needed to be taken in consideration, that certainly has always swayed my choice in leading or following. In considering the question "Is following the new leading?", I brought it up to a few co-workers and there blossomed a thoughtful discussion.

What defines a leader? 
In a more obvious, outward sense, we recognize leaders as people who stand out. They are people who speak openly and take charge and take on responsibilities. I think it is admirable to have a voice in public, and to have people listen to you, but I do think that a leader is defined more precisely and much more deeply than by his or her outward appearance or actions.

What a leader is not. 
I do not believe that a leader is simply someone who delegates tasks or shares facts clearly. I do not believe that you are made a leader by your status, or by how many people follow you. A lot of people have followers, but they're not necessarily leaders. I have follows do lead, too. I do not believe that just because you are aggressive or competitive you are a leader. I don't agree that women can never lead. (I'm not feminist, I do believe men are made to lead, but it doesn't mean women can't also be a different kind of leader.) Leaders are not always born to be leaders. Having money or being nice doesn't make you a leader. Most of us can agree that there are many people who have leading positions but they do not handle their responsibilities quite the way a true leader should. Maybe you think that you should be a leader, because you have lots of opinions to fix this false leader's problem, but having great ideas doesn't necessarily make you a leader. So then, what makes a true leader?

What a true leader is. 
Simply put, a leader is someone twho sets a good example. When my co-workers and I tried to think of people we thought who were great leaders, we settled on the greatest example: Jesus. While Jesus did speak and share the gospel publicly, that wasn't the only thing He did that drew people to Him. People came to Jesus because He lead by His example. He had suffered in His lifetime, was tempted, was hurt, was humiliated but never sinned. There is no better leader than one that you know has been where you've been. Leaders we are magnetized to are the ones that we relate to. They don't just delegate tasks and speak honestly, but they are also kind. I can name many introverted women in my life who do not see themselves as leaders, but they most certainly are. They have beautiful hearts and have experienced great pain; they are soft-spoken and kind, but they are also firm. I call them leaders because they are people I want to be like one day. They have lead by their daily examples. Jesus is someone we want to be like because we respect and love Him. We follow Him, leading others in our role as fishers of men, because of His example. In light of that, I think that you could also answer the question "Is following the new leading?" with the reverse of the question: "Is leading the new following?" because if you are following Christ, then you are also called to be a leader. This means you must follow His example so that you can be an example for others.


As for Lyla's interview, I would like to have it up on the blog by February 9th. This is four days from Lyla's birthdate, if you were wondering (February 13th). There is still time to send any fun questions you can think of, either here or on my Facebook page. (See thumbnails on the top right panel for links.)

Thank you also to any of you who participated in the quick, impromptu poll on the Facebook wall. Your answers were great! I am slowly learning new things daily to improve my writing for you all. Part of that is also understanding who I am writing to! Such a simple, but very complicated question. I'm realizing that I need to write for you to to you. 

If you were curious, these were the results I received. (Voters could choose more than 1 category, so this is not per person but per votes.)

VOTERS     GENRE      
2                   Like (thumb's up)= Sci-fi              
5                   Heart= Fantasy             
3                   Laughing= Christian/ inpirational        
5                   Wow= Theological                                          
2                   Sad=  Different genre                  
4                   Historical Fiction                                                                
1                   Classics                                                                              
3                   Biographies & autobiographies                            
1                   Legal Fiction                                                        
1                   Medical                                                              
1                   Realistic fiction (Probably similar to inspirational?)    
1                   Kid's books                                                        
1                   Suspense                                                            
2                   Mysteries                                                              

If I were voting, I would have picked Fantasy (my favorite one), and sometimes these genres too: Sci-fi, Theological (do devotionals count?), Historical Fiction (I looooove Jane Grey & Elizabeth I), and Classics on a rare occasion.
Knowing these results is not going to change what I write about (because I already know who my ideal sort of reader is), but it did help me understand who is listening. Naturally, since Fantasy is my favorite genre, it's what I write the most of.
Thank you, everyone!

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