Can you effectively lead without having all the answers? Will others follow when you’re not the source of all knowledge? Or might it be possible that having all the right answers might actually get in the way of leading others effectively?
Now before you answer these questions ask yourself this – what is the role of a leader? Is it to be the source of all knowledge? Or is it to be a guide to others in their journey of discovery, to empower others by helping them find their own answers?
Consider this reality – knowledge is power, so having all the knowledge of knowledge means having all the power. Now admittedly leaders need power and good leaders use power for good reasons. But power and knowledge are not scarce resources to be held tightly and handed out like war rations. Instead they are much more like Black-eyed Susan’s, when planted in well watered and fertilized soil, spread and fill a garden with beauty.
In other words, leadership is about multiplying power not keeping and hording it. And the most effective way to multiply power is to help others learn how to discover their own answers to their questions, to gain their own understanding and knowledge.
How do we help others do this? We shy away from the temptation to simply answering their questions; instead we answer their questions with our own thoughtful, probing questions. We use the right questions to guide and direct others in their journey of discovering the right answers. Because when a person discovers their own answers they’re empowered with their new knowledge to anticipate, act and respond to the world around them.
So in leadership it’s better to ask the right questions than have all the right answers.
Forgive my blogging holiday but I took a needed break from writing. But now it’s time to return to the series “What Could Cause Me to Lose My Job?” In my last post we examined the root cause of the seven attitudes and behaviors that lead to so many job failures – arrogance and its sister self-righteousness (arrogance disguised as humility). Over the next several posts we’ll look at each of these seven attitudes and behaviors in more detail.
The first behavior that grows from arrogance and self-righteousness is the misuse of power and authority. It begins with the attitude that “I deserve something more than I’m receiving as part of my job agreement”. This attitude leads to taking advantage of our positions for personal and financial benefits, perks or simply better working conditions than what’s offered to others.
Most of the time people with these attitudes express it in subtle ways, whether there’s a certain parking spot, nicer hotel rooms than the rest of the team, longer lunches, or in the way they treat and expect to be treated by those “under them”. But the message is clear – “I deserve this, it’s owed to me”.
Yet these subtle behaviors normally don’t get a person fired (unless it’s something blatant like major theft from the organization). What does cause a person to lose their job is the erode their influence and credibility consequences of their misuse of power and authority. People begin to doubt their motives, mistrust what they say and simply grow tired of working with and for them.
Finally, it’s important to remember that both power and authority are not inherently evil. They are gifts from God-given to us as leaders to advance His plans and His Kingdom. So we should embrace power and authority but only doing so through exercising extreme caution of their ability to corrupt, in a posture of humility and for the purpose of making a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world.
For over twenty years Michael Perry has made it his mission to bring young people closer to Christ through his Bible study publications, his capacity as the President and CEO of SpringHill, and his recent book, Experience = Everything. Over the last fifty years, SpringHill has changed over half a million lives—proving that it is more than just camp, or a place, SpringHill is a transformative experience.