Max De Pree says, “Leadership is a condition of indebtedness.” I firmly believe that to be true. Over the years I have become who I am because of having the opportunity to be mentored and groomed by some amazing leaders and learning by some not so amazing. In addition, amazing co-workers and employees have supported me. This has led me over the years to want to constantly give back, mentor, and support those around me. My definition of leadership remains the same and that is everyone can be the person who inspires others to a higher level of greatness. This can take place in many places by anyone who chooses to take up the call. Leadership is seen in many different places and in many different people. Back in 1998, I was certified in leadership development through the University of Nebraska. During the series of classes I took, it seemed everyone did things in lists of seven or five so I came up with my “Seven L’s of Leadership”. As I was looking through some of that material recently, I ran across them and I think they still apply for me today. Allow me to share them with you!
Look: A good leader must look around and look ahead. They set the vision and the goals that guide the people they lead. They look up from their paper work and look around at the people and product.
Listen: Much has been discussed about a leader’s ability to listen to the people around them. One of the reasons for Management By Walking Around (MBWA) is to “listen to employees in an informal setting.”(Harris, 2002) They ask questions and then really listen to what is said and the way it is being said.
Liberate: A good leader gives their people freedom to work. “The goals and the values are like sidelines. The players have to know that as long as they follow the rules they can go anywhere within the lines.” (Blanchard & Bowles, 1998)
Learn: In 1992 I had the honor of spending 45 minutes with Howard Hendricks in his office at Dallas Theological Seminary. Howard Hendricks has mentored some of the great Christian leaders such as Chuck Swindoll and Tony Evans. During that meeting, Mr. Hendricks made two quotes that I have never forgotten and have implemented into my life. First, that “all leaders are first learners.” Second, that “all leaders are readers.” I have been a non-stop reader trying to learn all I can ever since that conversation. All leaders need to be in a constant state of learning all they can.
Labor: Leadership is work and a good leader leads by example. They role up their sleeves and jump in when necessary. Good leadership is first in and last out. You will not find the Great leader on the golf course while there is still work to be done.
Laugh: Good leaders know when and how to laugh. They understand that fun is a motivator. They also know how to celebrate victories both big and small. “It’s virtually impossible to dislike someone who makes you laugh, who helps us enjoy ourselves.” (Decker, 1991)
Love: Leaders love what they do and the people with whom they do it. As Kouzes and Posner (2007) say, “Leadership is an affair of the heart.”
Director of Operational Instruction