Leadership. At Field Agent, we touch on this subject a lot. Leadership is defined as the act of guidance or direction, but it is extremely beneficial to take a more in-depth look at exactly how to lead.
Last year, we heard from Russ Crosson, president and CEO of Ronald Blue & Co. He spoke about leadership, a fitting topic for our group of emerging leaders at Field Agent. Crosson had a lot to say about leadership, so we put our notes together and saw a common thread of great points. First, let's take a look at why we even lead in the first place.
Why do we lead?
Leadership is not performing, producing, and working hard just to be promoted to tell people what to do.
You lead in order to replace yourself.
Let me say that again: you lead in order to replace yourself. Being a leader doesn’t mean it’s all about you. In fact, it means it's not about you at all.
It's about your team and your company.
Leaders must be mission-focused, and that mission is bigger than the individual. We must build up future leaders who are passionate, driven, and continually developing into better versions of themselves.
The truth is, we only lead for a limited amount of time. Be a good steward of that time, and remember that your legacy is defined by your successor(s).
Followership: Be a great follower.
Wait, I thought we were talking about leadership. Why should I be a great follower? In order to be a great leader, you must be a great follower.
At Field Agent, our leaders strive to exemplify humility and servant leadership. These two leadership principles go hand-in-hand with what Crosson taught us about followership. He gave us several practical tips on how to be a great follower:
- Get there one step ahead of your boss.
Don’t wait for them to ask you to do something if you know it should be done. Take initiative. “Done” tends to sound better than “will do.”
Take theory and put action to it. I frequently hear, "Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission." This is true for a lot of things, but remember to use good judgement and stay goal-focused.
- Make your boss look good.
“The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.” – Proverbs 27:18
Take time to prepare things for your boss, so she is able to present it to her boss. And so on. Making your boss look good will make your team look good.
- Don’t murmur.
Own it. Whether it’s a bold idea or a simple statement, when you say something, mean it and take ownership of it in full confidence.
If you aren't fully onboard with what you're saying, refine it until there's a clear direction. Try running it by others until it feels right. Different perspectives can certainly help polish an idea.
- You aren't always right.
There are many reasons behind having a team (and a boss), and one of those reasons is because they are smarter than you in certain areas. Embrace that knowledge. Be an open book and soak it up.
You won't be able to develop yourself and your career without listening to others and taking what they say into consideration. It opens the door for collaboration in ways you may have never thought of.
Leadership: Be a great leader.
With Crosson’s talk being focused on leadership, this is where he spent most of his time. Each of these are so important:
- Come up with ideas to make the company better.
Use your competence, skill, and experience to make something better. And don't just come up with the general ideas and theories. Think through the how.
Write it down, plan it out. There's no way you can make something happen if you don't think it through and vet it out. Again, seek perspective from others.
- Influence is important.
I can't stress this enough!! Influence is everything. And it's a two-way street. Mentor and be mentored.
- Find great people.
Don’t be afraid to invest in and strengthen others, even if they seem to be better than you. Remember, you lead to replace yourself. Take time to find (and develop) the right person.
- Be willing to accept feedback.
Pleasing people and decision-making shouldn’t depend on each other. 1 Kings, chapter 22 gives us a great example of why you shouldn’t be a “yes man.”
Hold tight to your mission statement. If you don’t have a mission statement, write one. You must have a whole-hearted devotion to that mission.
- Great leaders are coaches.
- Lead with isopraxism (“unruffled ups and downs”).
Practice emotional intelligence and lead by example. Your team is watching you.
Don’t Drop the Baton
I’m going to close with the analogy Crosson gave.
In a relay race, you have a team of runners that depend on one another to make their mission a success. What do you think is the most important part of the race?Passing that baton.
It’s all about the hand-off. There’s a give and a take. The next generation has to be willing and prepared to take. We are designed to pour into the next generation. And that's what leadership is.