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David Hegg: Looking at leadership now

Posted: September 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.

In the past several months, as our country has been deeply involved in the run up to the presidential election in November, an emphasis has been put on this thing we call leadership.

The national discussion seems to cycle through the same set of topics as the two political camps attempt to paint their opponents as simpletons, whose ideas are absurd and whose victory would surely bring our nation to utter ruin. But in the middle of the political dripping there is one constant theme: leadership. Apparently we need it, and just as apparently, neither side believes the other can provide it. But my concern is that we may not actually know what it is.

If you go to a library, you will find hundreds of books on leadership. There are leadership lessons from business, the military and several celebrities whose good looks and suave demeanor apparently have fashioned them into models of leadership.

If you search deeper you’ll find that there are many kinds of leadership. You can find books to help you lead families, nonprofits, sport teams, multinational corporations and volunteer groups. You’ll find lots of lists of the “top 10 things great leaders do,” be challenged to lead by walking around and be counseled on how to put together teams and “get the right people on the bus.”

In another section you’ll find books on the best practices of the best leaders. What do they read? How do they live? How do they eat and exercise? How do they manage time, people and expectations?

And the bottom line is that each month there will be a whole new batch of leadership books each promising to make those willing to shell out the money a better, more respected and certainly more valuable leader.

And here’s the problem. We’ve written, read and discussed so much about leadership that it may well be that we don’t really know what it looks like or why it’s important.

Here’s my two cents: Leadership is influence. Leadership is influence that motivates others to work together to accomplish things they couldn’t accomplish individually. There are many other details to leadership, but without this one you don’t have it. Primarily leadership is about bringing people together and maximizing the group’s knowledge and ability in order to move some mountains and change the world.

We have a hard time recognizing leadership because we have stopped believing that each of us should be a leader. Our national personality has become one where we are looking for someone else to lead us, to show us the way, to bring our lives along to a better place. What is needed is for each of us to start leading in our own sphere of influence. That will mean having a plan, and being a person others will follow. It will mean making promises we can keep, and then keeping them. It will mean being willing to do the hard things so those following can count on us, trust us and follow us when circumstances might argue otherwise. It will mean taking responsibility for our lives and the lives around us. And it will mean saying “no” to anything that will keep us from leading our families, teams, businesses, organizations and nation to accomplish the things we all know really matter.

Leadership is influence, and it demands leaders who have the honesty, intelligence, expertise and moral fortitude to make their leadership worth following.

David W. Hegg is senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita.


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