We can all list the types of leaders we don’t like and we can quickly identify their unlikeable characteristics. So, what are the characteristics of leaders we do like? What are some of the things leaders do that make us want to follow them even more? In this blog, I will describe three practices that will help you to be a memorable leader for the right reasons.
One of the stand-out leaders in the Bible was the Prophet and Judge Deborah. Did you know she was the first in the list of judges whom God raised up who was also a prophet? (The only other one was Samuel, who was the last judge). Deborah’s story is found in chapters 4 and 5 of the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures. Her effective leadership of the nation of Israel resulted in 40 years of peace and rest for the people. We can identify several practices which are still valued in today’s leaders based on Deborah’s actions.
- Be prepared with knowledge and be quick to acknowledge your sources. As a leader, it is not necessary for you to know everything. It is your responsibility to search out reliable information and to gather pertinent research. And it is absolutely necessary for you to give credit where credit is due for information and ideas. Being honest with the fact that you don’t know everything and that others were the original sources for the information you are presenting are traits of authentic and trustworthy leaders. Deborah knew when the Lord had given her instructions and she informed the people of that.
- Demonstrate a willingness to do what you are asking others to do. A good leader is a servant leader–one who’s willing to get her hands dirty and work hard alongside others. After Deborah informed her military commander of God’s instructions, he asked her to accompany him into battle and she said yes. Deborah listened to the request of her subordinate and was willing to risk her own life for the lives of others. While your leadership role may not require such an extreme level of participation, you should expect to spend more time patiently explaining and demonstrating (multiple times and/or in multiple ways) how a task needs to be done or give a personal example of how you did a similar thing in the past.
- Express your gratitude both in public and in private to anyone who helps you accomplish a task or achieve a goal. While it is a good practice to mention people’s names in a public expression of thanks, the art of the handwritten thank-you note on paper is quickly fading. You can bring it back and it will make you stand out as an appreciative leader. Chapter 5 of Judges is Deborah’s thank-you note preserved for multiple millennia. In the form of a song, this is one of the oldest poems in the Hebrew Bible (Scholz in Newsom, Ringe, & Lapsley (Eds.), Women’s Bible Commentary, 2012, p. 119). In it, Deborah expresses praise for God’s deliverance and gratitude for her military commander, other groups who came to their aid, and to the woman Jael who was the one who personally defeated their enemy. Noticing the individual contributions of the people who help you will endear you to those you lead. While you may not think your personal thank you is that important to someone, the fact that someone in a position of leadership said thanks gives it more weight. For some, a leader’s praise is very empowering. Use that position of leadership to empower and encourage others.
Giving credit where credit it due, doing your part to accomplish the task you’ve asked others to do, and expressing your gratitude both publicly and privately to those who contributed to the joint success are three skills that will cause others to want to be part of your tribe because they know you care about them and will appreciate their efforts. What can you do to stand out this week?
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Join the conversation below by adding to the comments . . .
What is another great leadership trait you have witnessed or experienced?