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It’s true, everybody IS a leader.  Somebody somewhere at some time has been,or is being, or will be influenced by us.  Leadership is influence so we need to muscle up and own the fact that we are all leaders.   Today’s post is about being a leader.  But it’s not about skill, or technique, or competence, or capacity, it’s about a leader’s heart.  What’s going on below the water line in your activity when you lead?   What’s the motivation that motivates you?  What motivates any of us? 

Photo: Procession Leader RCMP Academy Parade Regina Saskatchewan

I’ve been in a leadership spot often enough, and I have worked with and watched other leaders often enough, to know that the answer to the above question has a myriad of answers. 

I could explore some of the dark sides of motivation but you could do that too.  Nobody likes having their motives exposed or challenged publicly.  Too often the exposer gets it wrong.  And that hurts.  The surgeon trying to correct our troubled back may be well intentioned but if he surgically removes an leg in all of his best intentionalities…well, that’s just wrong.  So, I am not going  start cutting today.  You can do a better job doing your own self examination. 

Let me share with you a recent experience that I think captures the wholeness of a leader’s heart. 

We recently spent a couple of weeks with our eldest grandson.  He’s 11.  He’s an only child.  He has a strong desire to please but also has a strong sense of independence.   We were staying at his folk’s place over the holidays.  Each night he’d get ready for bed and because of my background as a pastor, I encouraged him to kneel at the foot of his bed and his gramma and I would pray with him before he crawled under the covers.  Nothing too religious!  Just a thank you for the day, a thank you for the good things in the day, a request for a good night’s sleep and a request for a good day tomorrow.  And then we’d “wrestle” for 5 minutes before finally turning off the lights. 

After 4 or 5 days I didn’t have to encourage him to pray, he initiated it himself.  Now, I won’t lie to you, he knew there was no wrestling til we were finished prayer times.  But for him, prayer became part of his evening habits…and then wrestling with “Pops”!

Why did I initiate a prayerful habit with him?  Because I truly believe that we are better people when we pray, acknowledging there is something bigger than you or I.  And I was willing to go through the effort to help my grandson learn that habit.  Not because “I was right/he was wrong” (that could easily slip into arrogance) but because I wanted a better life for him. 

So, that leads me to the conclusion that our leadership heart is in the right place when it truly causes us to want “something better” for those we lead…whether it be a family, whether it be a cause, whether it be an organization, or a company.  Do we deep down inside care about them?  Or ourselves? 

BTW, if you are a leader, and truly care about the people you are leading…sometimes it is helping them develop good practices, but sometimes it is about doing what they want to do too.  Don’t be afraid to “wrestle with the grandkids” if that’s something they want to do.