Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Common Mistake

The 20 questions for leaders that Michael Smith of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee asked Mike Hyatt seem to get harder as we go along. Today's question is What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

This one hurts, because I see myself making the same mistake. That mistake is a leader being so focused on becoming a great leader that he fails to lead. All the leadership books in the world won't do you a bit of good if you do nothing but read leadership books. Let me bring it down to a real world example.

Writers are leaders, are they not? Whether we are writing a non-fiction book, a novel or a only a blog, we write hoping that our words will influence people. And the words of many writers do. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin is said to have started the Civil War. At the very least, it helped it along a little. So, every writer has the potential to be a leader through the words he writes. It stands to reason then that we want those words to be as well crafted as possible. We writers want to know about the writing craft and we want to know how to get our words out there for the world to read. That knowledge can only make us better leaders. Like moths to a flame, we all congregate around the websites of literary agents, editors and best selling authors. There are hundreds of us, all swarming around a few websites. We spend thousands of dollars on conferences, editors and books. And we're happy to do it because if we know how to write better, how to craft a query letter and our manuscripts are the very best they can be then we can only be better leaders, but we've forgotten the most important thing. We've forgotten to lead.

Leaders need to be more focused on the work at hand than they are on learning to persuade people to do what they tell them to do. People are much more willing to follow someone who has a heart for the work and leads by example.