To lead others well, it starts by leading yourself well.
Leading yourself well starts by how you see things around you. Its what I call "reading the room." Being self-aware leads to effective self leadership which leads to potent organizational leadership. So the question for the new young Christian is "how do you develop your leadership point of view as a young leader with minimal life experience but with a lot of passion?"
Here are a 5 questions to develop your leadership point of view:
1. Who are the influencers (key people) in your life who have had a positive impact on your life (such as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, or bosses, etc.) and what did you learn from these people about leadership?
When you think about who most impacted your life, seldom do young people mention bosses or other organizational leadership. More often we talk about their parents, grandparents, friends, coaches, or teachers. What did you learn from these people about leadership? How did their influences help your leadership point of view evolve?
2. Think about your life purpose. Why are you here and what do you want to accomplish?
Young leaders need to have a clear picture of why they are doing what they are doing. Discovering your purpose in life at a young age is a lot of pressure. So ask those around you what you are good at, what you excel at, what they see you doing well as well as what you aren’t good at, etc. Develop a purpose statement for your life. My purpose statement is leading the next generation forward “to inspire callings, transform communities and renew culture together.”
3. What are your core values that will guide your behavior as you attempt to live your life “on purpose?”
Most young leaders suffer from a serious lack of awareness about their core values that results in an inconsistent and incoherent life. You don't want to look back on your life with guilt or regret because of what you didn't do our could have done. Core values help you identify in life what’s important. The truth is every person values things differently. Having trouble identifying what you value, try filtering it through your decision making. For example: Would I choose to execute a unique team activity with my staff because I value shared experiences that we can look back on and have a shared memory of celebration or execute a monthly team leadership meeting valuing a reliable system to forge monthly team skills creating a dependable rhythm. Both are great suggestions, but one values celebration the other values rhythm. I choose celebration every time. I think rhythm is important but I will fill my calendar with celebrations with my team rather than attempting to forge a rhythm with my team. Both are building community but how you execute that is going to be build around celebration or rhythm. The key is to start making a long list of words that inspire you, move you and get your heart beating. Then narrow it down. I suggest that you focus on 3 or 4 values because the more you have it can be too many and immobilizing. Also, rank your values from the most important to least important because values are sometimes in conflict.
4. What are stories, movies, characters, biographies or hero’s that inspire you to become better?
I love stories that move me to be a better person. I recently read a biography on George Washington and was inspired to be a better leader because of decisions Washington made under pressure and the power of timing in the moment. The hero arc is something to look at as a leader as well that helps you think critically about your own call to adventure and the journey of becoming someone who changes to create change as a leader.
5. What authors that inspire you and what books are you reading?
One of the best ways to develop a point of reference as a young leader is to build a reference library. I have a lot of books. I’ve heard reading someone’s book is like spending 12 years with that person. Whether that’s true or not, I do believe that the more you read from other leaders, the more your perspective shifts and shapes. Find those authors that you gel with and those that are different than what you’re used to. Read books, highlight books and make notes. Odds are, the words and paragraphs that jump off the page that you highlight are phrases that are striking a chord with you for a reason.
Take your research and put it together to develop your leadership point of view. This perspective will change over time but it’s a starting place for you as a young leadership.
What other questions would you add to this list?