What defines a good leader? Is it how smart or organized they are? Is it how nice or friendly they are? Is it how successful they are and is it about how many followers they have?
If you asked yourself this, what would your answer be?
I bet most of you can tell me horror stories of working under a bad manager. I’m also sure you could tell me some good managers that you loved working under. I have worked under both a bad and a good manager, and I can tell you there is a huge difference between the two.
I remember when I first got into management a few years back. It was at this gas station that I was working at when I was 19. I quit the first college I went to, to become a manager at this gas station. I thought I didn’t need college, I figured I could just move up the ranks and that would be my career. Anyone else ever done this?
Well after I got the promotion, I immediately started training. Weirdly enough they never taught me how to lead anything, but instead they taught me what my job responsibilities were and how to get the stuff on the list done. I guess developing leadership skills was not on the top of their priority list. They just needed a body to babysit the regular workers.
As a 19 year old I was cool with that, I mean I got to boss people around all day, so I didn’t care if I was being a good manager or not. Well I got good at doing just that, telling people what to do and acting all high and mighty. It eventually got me promoted to an assistant manager. When that happened, I felt like I was the best thing that ever happened to this place.
Well after that promotion I guess you could say my head exploded. I thought that I was better than everyone else, and everybody was underneath me. I would classify myself as a tyrant manager. I remember what the store manager taught me during training, she said that if your employees hate you, then you’re doing a good job. So, that’s how I rolled while I was managing. I bet you can guess how much the employees loved me right? lol
Well one day while I was at work, one of my employees came up to me and asked me why I’m such an arrogant A-hole. I bet you can guess my response. Who do you think you are going up to me and talking to me like that. I can tell you I gave that employee the worst jobs to do that day. However, it got me thinking about my management style. I never thought it mattered to me what my employees thought, but when they said that it hit a cord.
Well this was before the time when I gave my life to Christ.
During this time, me and my wife, were having lots of problems at home due to the job. That’s when as noted in my about page, I decided to go to church and start the journey with Christ.
So, what’s the point of this story?
Well quite simply I was thinking back to my time as a manager and I was reevaluating what I did wrong. I thought about my past managers and I did not like most of them and I used to backtalk them and disrespect them behind their back. I tried putting myself in the shows of the employees that were under me, and I realized I would have hated working for me.
So, weirdly enough when I decided to step down as a manger from that job after I gave my life to Christ, my co-workers refused to talk to me. See, I demoted myself willingly and took just a normal workers role. I realized the damage I did, and I also realized that when I tried to share my new-found faith with people, none of them would listen to a word I was saying. I mean why should they, with the way I treated them?
However, after a few months some of them started talking to me. I guess they noticed a change in me over that span. As you guys know it is easy to fake something for a week or even two, but if someone is consistently different, then people will start to notice.
I can tell you people starting to notice the change in me and that is how I could start making ground with them. I know I didn’t change anyone, but I can tell you I at least got them to consider for even a moment and that’s all we can do. I mean you can go out and witness all you want and tell people about God, but you can’t change them and force them to choose Him. Most of the time, they will only listen if they see some physical evidence presented to them, and that is what happens when a non-believer turns into a believer. The change is very noticeable.
It makes me think of what Jesus said in John 12:35,” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
It’s the love that you now learn to show that is what gets people’s attention. It has nothing to do with what you say, or how you say it. It instead must do with showing them the act of love on a consistent basis, when that is something that used to be foreign to you. It is a sacrificial of oneself.
This got me thinking also of another thing that my man Jesus said in John 13:13-17, 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
This leads me back to the question I asked at the beginning and the whole point of this article. I know if you read my story, I was a terrible leader and a terrible manager. I mean you can ask anyone who worked there, I got a big head and let pride take over. I wonder though how different things would have been if I listened to the examples that Jesus showed.
In this story Jesus decides to wash the feet of all the disciples. Back in their time this is what a servant would do and never anyone who was important. Jesus did this to show them what true leadership is all about. It is not about power or authority. It is not about looking better than others, or even being in charge. Instead its about serving those that you lead. If a leader can serve to the lowest level for those that are under him, then what is that showing you about the leader?
I believe that is the first step into understanding how to lead. That is learning how to love those that are under you. If you can do that then you are willing to sacrifice and help them with any situation. If a leader is too concerned with themselves and with their power, then they will isolate themselves and only do things for their own benefit. However, if the leader is thinking about those under them first as the priority, then those workers or people under will garner respect for that leader. Think of it sort of like a partnership, there should be equal respect for one another, without trampling on each other.
If you are a leader, what is your leadership style?