Lead by Example

“Do as I say and not as I do” never really works for any of us and it only leaves us the option to “do as I do” or simply, lead by example. Walking the talk every minute of every day and not letting down even for a moment is actually easier than it sounds. As a leader, you must be aware that your people are watching you. When we don’t do as we say, they start asking “Why should I do it when the boss doesn’t?” We usually don’t have an answer for that except to take a line from our parents “because I said so”. The military has a very good model for us to consider following when leading the way. The Generals running operations in the Middle East could certainly receive their reports and briefings from field units from the comfort of their offices in the Pentagon just as easily as they do from their forward command posts in Afghanistan. They are in country just like the men and women they lead because setting the right example is important. They wear the same uniform, follow the same protocols and lead by example all of the time, not just when someone is looking.

Deuteronomy 5:33 – “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days…”

Jesus left us a great example to follow and that’s exactly what God wants from us. God knows we’ll struggle, only Jesus was perfect; that’s why it’s called following and not duplicating. God wants us to walk in the way, do as Jesus did by loving each other, being compassionate and caring for others, forgiving others and ourselves and learning the word of God. God’s grace has given us eternal life – to live and prosper and prolong our days. He asks that we follow the example provided by His son, Jesus Christ. Spend time learning the examples given to us in the bible and then put those examples in front of you everyday. Practice daily what you learn and imagine Jesus saying to you “do as I do”. Whether you are a designated leader or dedicated employee, people are watching you every day. Learning the lessons given to us by Jesus, we will not only lead our people in our businesses but we will provide everyone around us with a great Christian example to follow. Walking in the way of the Lord will be easier than you think.

Your word is the truth

“All you have is your word” is an old expression about truthfulness. Recent studies have shown that the American people are losing trust with Washington, City Hall, Church Leaders, co-workers and spouses. Who’s left? There isn’t much. We see decay all around us in the news with a number of ethics investigations, people embezzling, corporate corruption, high divorce rates and the number of “new” churches starting up to tell their versions of the “truth”. It seems to be an uphill battle; people are more skeptical and less trusting than they have been in years. Our job as a leader is to be truthful at all times. People deserve the truth and when we are truthful, they begin to understand what we are saying. Trustworthiness is the number one personality trait that people look for in a leader. People have to trust you as their leader; your word is your truth. No one wants to hear the latest spin you’ve got or the “company line” when they ask questions or see you in action; they want the truth, plain and simple.

John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is the truth.”

Fortunately, we have the bible, which is filled with God’s truths. We have been given examples of God’s promises and his fulfillment of them. There is no spin on anything in the bible and the only “company line” is “Love the Lord Your God”. Life can create doubts all around us; sometimes we are not sure who or what to believe anymore. Despite all of this confusion and our own lack of understanding, God has kept his word and will provide eternal life for us; a life better than we can imagine here on earth. So, despite all of the uncertainty we can all rest comfortably knowing that we can find our truths in the bible and in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Do the right thing

“Do the Right Thing” was a Spike Lee film in the 1980’s. The phrase has been popular ever since and found its way into many corporate ethics discussions. It seems so easy to do, if it is the right thing or the good you ought to do, why not do it? We know that the answer can be complicated. Kent Keith, the author of the book “Anyway”, lists the ten paradoxical commandments of life. Paradoxical commandment number nine says “Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth; Give the world your best anyway”. You may have heard the phrase “No good dead will go unpunished”, we do good anyway because it is written on our hearts. It is certainly easier for us to do the things that: cause us less work, make us more money, won’t hurt anyone and won’t create a conflict or simply do something because everyone else is doing it. Being a leader however isn’t easy, that’s why work is called labor. As a leader we have an obligation to our staff to do the right thing, all the time, and to continue to do it even if it isn’t appreciated. Integrity can be described as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. We are however, never alone.

James 4:17 – “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins.”

God is always with us, in thought, words and deeds. He knows what is in our heart and see’s even the little things we say and do. So when we know better and don’t do it or when we take the easy way out, we sin. There are a lot of things we do that are a result of the old Adam in us, things we do that result in sin. Knowing the good you ought to do and then consciously deciding against it is sin too. We are not perfect and God knows that, which is why gave us an example to follow – Jesus. Jesus is not only a great example but He came to reconcile us with God by taking the punishment for all of ours sins upon Himself so that we could have forgiveness for our sins. Jesus has shown us Love and obtained the forgiveness for our sins. No matter what has happened, turn away from the sin in your life and turn to God seeking forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Leading and Following

Some people call it micro-managing, some call it accountability while others will call it babysitting; but looking after our flock is an essential function of leadership. The real issue is how you do it; as a herder you can walk behind them as they walk along the path and keep the strays in line or you can walk in front leading the way knowing that you’ll still have them when you turn around as a Shepherd does. How do you lead? The Shepherd concept of leadership is also important to how your people respond to you. Sheep herders use dogs to chase around the edges to keep the herd moving forward; if you find yourself chasing around the edges after your people, check your leadership style. You should be looking after your people but you shouldn’t have to chase them down. Maintaining accountability of assignments without chasing them down can be a real challenge. Using a good coaching model combined with a strong vision will help you lead from the front. The concept of rescuing them means that you will put yourself at some risk to help them. The best strategy for performing a “rescue” is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Spend time in the beginning to give them the training and tools needed to execute their jobs.

Ezekiel 34:12 “As a Shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all places where they were scattered…”

We are God’s sheep and it is great to have a Shepherd that cares about us as much as He does. He gave up His son for our salvation and ever lasting life. God is always with us, looking after us and will come to our rescue; even when we’ve put distance between us. We need to do our best and prevent the need for a rescue. We should be spending time with God, praying, reading the word and spreading the good news. On Easter, we were given the grace of God in the resurrection of Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While you are focusing on being a good Shepherd in your vocation, focus also on being a good sheep (follower). Rejoice that your Father cares so deeply that He will risk a lot to rescue you from all of the places that you can scatter to.

Opportunity Knocks

Sometimes we are not lucky enough to work for supervisors who might care about their people like we do. There are times when we’ll need to create a little window of opportunity; to tell our boss what we want to accomplish, how they can help or what we think need to be successful. The higher up the “ladder” a supervisor goes, the less they pay attention to the things that their people need and we need to remind them that we’re here. Author John Maxwell describes 360º Leadership in his book with the same title; we can use this as a tool to help us achieve goals that we have set for ourselves. Being forward with our own supervisor is perhaps not something that feels natural but when we are dealing with our own future and our needs, sometimes we need to push a little. As leaders we often forget to take care of our own needs, just as the cobbler’s kids have no shoes. God has put you in this place and in this time for a reason, ask questions and seek opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Luke 11:9 – “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Luke teaches us to ask the lord for what we need. We need to learn to put our trust in God so that He can deliver us what we need. The real truth of the matter is that what God delivers is not always what we want or plan for but what we need. Another thing that frustrates us is that God will not do it on our timeline but on His. Today, with the microwave we cook faster, with the DVR we get television on our schedule and the Internet gives us information in an instant. Luke reminds us to ask, seek and knock on the doors that God can open for you. God has promised not to leave you. He gave us His only Son in order to keep us close. Pray and have patience, He will open the door for you.