Will they follow you? What does it take to be a GREAT LEADER?
Warning: This information is very deep, and will be found by most very hard to digest. However, I promise you this, if you read through this and then seek understanding, you will be blessed in leadership capabilities you have never before experienced. I know that is a big statement, but I am confident in the message.
Since I am in the business of developing leaders, I started to ask a natural question - "How do you develop a "Great Leader". Not just "a leader", but a "Great Leader". So I started to think about what the process would look like to "Develop a Great Leader". I came up with the following:
Step #1: Define a "Great Leader"
You would think this is a simple task, but I found out that this is far from a simple task. However, after much thought I came up with what I believe is the best and only answer, "A Great Leader is a person who tries to live their life perfectly, and asks others to follow a vision that improves life, for themselves and others." To get to this answer I figured the best way to define a "Great Leader" is to find a "Great Leader" of people and then using this person to develop the definition. So after considering hundreds of options of great leaders, the top provable winner was Jesus Christ. He is clearly a Great Leader who has changed the world, and has led billions of people to his church and philosophy, and still active today through his words and actions provided in the Bible and by his church.
Notes: 1) There are many people in this world who don't believe in Jesus Christ as God, but do believe that he was a great profit, and/or philosopher and study his word. For example, Muslims know the Bible's new testament better than many Christians. Therefore, please don't skip this experience because of your religious beliefs, 2)Through my research there were many Great Leaders, but Jesus Christ kept rising to the top of all Great Leaders. However, I am always interested in hearing and sharing opinions of others who you think may be competition for being a "Great Leader". Let me know if you agree, or disagree, and why.
Step #2: Define how a Great Leader leads
"People Following" ended up being the biggest metric of a great leader, after all you cannot lead if you don't have people following. The second metric was the accomplishment level of the leader's vision, but this metric always had to be supported by "People Following" to be a true factor. Therefore, "People Following" was the only real metric of leadership success. So the focus of a "Great Leader" must be on "People Following".
Step #3: Develop a Leadership Development Strategy
Therefore the leadership development strategy is based on leaders 1) attempting to "Live Their Life Perfectly" which develops virtue and people responding to the virtues of the leader, and ultimately becoming followers, and 2) leaders not only clearly expressing their purpose, but also bringing that purpose to life daily which causes followers to strive to fulfill the leader's purpose.
OK, I am already starting to hear a cacophony of protest from other leadership developers. "What do you mean by, "strive to live life perfectly", do leaders need to be priests?" Absolutely not, but they do need to learn what Jesus Christ knew - there is a force of Natural Law that rules much of the behavior of man. Since leadership is all about "People Following", it is critical a leader learn the forces of Natural Law. In fact, we think it so important, we came up with our version of a written leadership law, "Natural Law is a rule which so necessarily agrees with the nature and state of humans, that, without leadership observing its maxims, the success, peace, and happiness of a team can never be preserved."
Leadership and Natural Law
If you are not familiar with Natural Law, or the Laws of Nature, as a leader you need to be aware of them and their impact on your ability to lead others. Natural Law defines human behavior. Natural Law has been around before the dawn of man, and whether we like it or not, the law is part of the DNA of every human. Of course humans have always tried to write their own laws, known as Man's Law, but Man's Laws have always ultimately lost out to Natural Law - every time.
Natural Law Explained
Nature is a force that is greater than you. This force is considered to come from either an individual force or a combination of three forces. There are three possible forces that form Natural Law individually or some combination of the three:
Devine Natural Law: Inspired by God, a deity, a supreme being, a power beyond comprehension, or even an energy produced by all life throughout the ages,
Secular Natural Law: Inspired by behavioral laws of nature as understood by human reason,
Historical Natural Law: Inspired by well-established customs, traditions, and experiences that have evolved over the course of history.
Wherever you believe these laws come from, the great majority of people from the dawn of humans, to today, have believed in some higher power. This belief is the main reason humans have survived and prospered over these thousands of years. When humans consider that there is some other power greater than themselves that has provided these laws to humanity, they may consider Man's Law, but fear the results if they break Natural Law. This is healthy for the individual, and humanity.
Man's Laws are based on the needs, wants and desires of the body. This generates mostly selfishness, greed, lust for power, and much more. Man's Laws and Nature's Laws are like oil and water, they can coexist, but are separate.
We like this definition for Natural Law from a legal opinion from 1851, "Natural Law is “a rule which so necessarily agrees with the nature and state of man, that, without observing its maxims, the peace and happiness of society can never be preserved”. [Borden v. State, 11 Ark. 519, 527 (Ark. 1851)] From https://definitions.uslegal.com/n/natural-law/>
How Does Natural Law Impact Leadership
Using the definition in the previous paragraph, we have come up with our own definition associated with leadership: "Natural Law is a rule which so necessarily agrees with the nature and state of humans, that, without leadership observing its maxims, the success, peace, and happiness of a team can never be preserved."
From this definition, it is very clear that a leader must be in tune with Natural Law because it would be futile for a leader to go against the grain of human behavior that has been formed and controlled by Natural Laws for tens of thousands of years. History indicates that success without leaders following Natural Laws can be had for short periods, but is always short-lived.
What Are Natural Laws
Before we get to the Laws of Nature, a leader needs to be aware that they cannot simply look at the list of laws and decide to live by them. Of course, it is refreshing just to read this list of laws as they stand in contrast to the Laws of Man, but that gets you nowhere. You must understand the power that made these laws and why the creator made each of these laws. For example, a person who believes in God is directed to seek an understanding of why God made this law and what you must do to live by this law. They must feed and nurture and encourage this new nature by reading the Word of God, by engaging in meaningful prayer, and by fellowship with other believers. Only by doing this, and through human resolve, will a leader be able to develop these character traits.
There are basically nine virtues in Nature. When you consider all nine of these virtues in Nature, you can surmise that where such virtues exist there are no laws against it. Therefore, if you lead with these nine virtues, the law of others (man, governments, and etc.) is irrelevant. Failure is irrelevant.
As you read through the nine virtues shared below, stop and think about each one and how they could apply to leading others.
How would followers accept these virtues from a leader? Would they want to follow this leader? Would they often go beyond the requirements of the job to help the leader succeed in the purpose?
If you were able to live these virtues, would you be a better leader? Why?
If you strived to live all of these virtues, would you even worry about what your boss demanded? Why?
Is there a virtue that you would not strive for? Why? What may you be losing if you do not include this virtue?
After reading this, many leaders don't believe they can strive to live all these virtues but choose two or three that they will commit to. They realize just living these virtues will change their and others' lives. If you could only choose three, which ones would you choose?
Write out a vision of what your job and life would be like if you strived to live these virtues.
Virtues in Relation With Nature
Love or Gladness (Greek, agape): Is to seek the highest welfare for every human being. Love is not simply a warm feeling; it is instead an attitude which reveals itself in action. Real love means "to seek the best for another person, regardless of how the other person treats us."
A leader can demonstrate agape love by helping others even when it's not convenient; by giving when it hurts; by devoting energy to the welfare of others rather than to our own welfare. We can demonstrate love by absorbing hurts from others without complaining. True love will never seek anything but the highest and the best good for the object of that love.
The antithesis of Love and Gladness are Hate and Sadness
Joy or Delight is a deep inner radiance of the soul, resulting from the knowledge that Nature works things out for our good. It is a condition of inner satisfaction, an untouchable joy that comes from knowing and walking in the light of Nature. Joy is not a pleasure due to favorable circumstances, nor is it a happiness that comes from having lots of earthly things. Joy is a delightful result that comes from knowing that Nature is too good to be unkind.
The antithesis of Joy and Delight are Misery and Discontent
Peace or Calmness is the rest and calmness that results from a harmonized relationship between the leader's soul and Nature. It is not always an easy matter to live peaceably with others, especially with obnoxious people—but as far as it lies with us, we are to live peaceably with all men. Also, for leaders who know God are calm in the face of any storm, because through God they are at peace with whatever the future holds for them.
The antithesis of Peace and Calmness are Discord and Violence
Virtues in Relation with Others
Longsuffering, Self-restraint, or Patience is a quality where one does not quickly retaliate even in the midst of provocation. Longsuffering is the same as our English word patience. It is a quality that most of us wish we had more of—the ability to absorb irritating things (like slowpoke drivers on the highway, and neighbors who let their dogs bark all night)—without becoming paralyzed. A longsuffering person does not have a quick temper, or as we say sometimes, a short fuse. Patience comes from a position of power. A person may have the ability to take revenge or cause trouble, but patience brings self-restraint and careful thinking. Losing patience is a sign of weakness. We are patient through trying situations out of hope for a coming deliverance; we are patient with a trying person out of compassion. We choose to love that person and want what's best for him.
The antithesis of Self-restraint and Patience are Self-Indulgence and Agitation
Gentleness or Kindnessis the translation of a word that speaks of thoughtful consideration— which leads to courteous and kindly action. It is the act of being friendly, sympathetic, and polite. It is the opposite of being rude and thoughtless. "Kindness" is the golden rule of treating others as we expect them to treat us. An unknown writer once said, "l expect to pass through life but once; if therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now—for I shall not pass this way again." That statement is worth remembering.
The antithesis of Gentleness and Kindness are Hardness and Hostility
Goodness is virtue and holiness in action. It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and desire to be a blessing. Generosity and benevolence which causes one to do helpful things for others. It includes helping with the chores when an accident occurs and taking a meal when someone is sick. The Greek word agathosune is defined as "uprightness of heart and life". Agathosune is goodness for the benefit of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous. Actively acting on behalf of others.
The qualities of longsuffering, kindness, and goodness are traits that make a person attractive to others. We cannot do much about the body we were born with. We can trim it and paint it, but it still looks pretty much like the original. However, we can be as attractive as we want to be inwardly. We can exude kindness and goodness in any amount we choose. We may not be able to control our outward looks, but we can control the attractiveness of our character.
The antithesis of Goodness are Evil
Virtues in Relation to Oneself
Most of us know that we should be more organized and controlled and restrained. The lack of life-discipline is one of the "weights" which we sometimes allow to beset us.
Faith or Faithfulness is the quality of reliability and trustworthiness which makes one's word become his bond. Faithfulness speaks of loyalty, dependability, and stability.
The word "faithfulness" implies that faith is more than a momentary assent to the truth of Nature. It is commitment to that truth, and it manifests itself in continued obedience. "Faithful" persons are conscientious about performing the duties that are assigned to them; they stand by the commitments they make. It is not unusual for someone to promise to do an important task for us, but then never follow through with it. Great leaders will take seriously what they tell others they will do for them, and then will be careful to follow through with the promise.
The antithesis of Faith and Faithfulness are Distrust and Treachery
Meekness or Gentleness speaks of a submissive and teachable spirit. The meek person is one who is ready to listen and to learn. It is a tenderness of spirit that enables us to discipline others properly, to endure persecution graciously, and to witness to others with sensitivity. Meekness is the quality that makes one submissive rather than arrogant and haughty and rebellious. The meek person has such a humble view of his own capabilities that he is ready to listen to others. Above all, he is sensitive to the leading and the teaching of Nature.
Every person is powerful. We can speak words that influence others; we can act in ways that help or hurt; and we can choose what influences will inform our words and actions. Gentleness constrains and channels that power. We must realize that our worldviews are shaped by exposure to sin and the misinterpretation of experience.
The antithesis of Meekness and Gentleness are Arrogance and Hardness
Temperance or Self Control is that quality which leads to mastery over evil inclinations. Self-control (temperance) is moderation and constraint in using the good things and abstaining from the evil. The self-controlled person says "no" to our baser desires and fleshly lusts, or to anything that would dim his vision of Nature or take away his desire to study the history of Nature. "Self-control" naturally leads to perseverance as we value the long-term good instead of the instant gratification of the world. It also signifies moderation and self-restraint. "Self-control" is never easy because personal discipline runs contrary to human nature—but discipline can be more and more achieved as we choose to be led by Nature. We must seek to live day by day under Nature's control.
The antithesis of Temperance and Self Control are Indulgence and Self Indulgence
When you consider all nine of these virtues in Nature, you can surmise that where such virtues exist there are no laws against it. Therefore, if you lead with these nine virtues, the law of others (man, governments, and etc.) is irrelevant. Failure is irrelevant. However, this "fruit" is not easy to grasp by yourself. As was stated at the beginning of this lesson: A leader needs to be aware that they cannot simply look at the list of laws and decide to live by them. Of course, it is refreshing just to read this list of laws as they stand in contrast to the Laws of Man, but that gets you nowhere. You must understand the power that made these laws and why the creator made each of these laws. For example, a person who believes in God is directed to seek an understanding of why God made this law and what you must do to live by this law. They must feed and nurture and encourage this new nature by reading the Word of God, by engaging in meaningful prayer, and by fellowship with other believers. However, for a non-believer, you must seek an understanding of why God made this law and what you must do to live by this law. They must feed and nurture and encourage this new nature by reading the New Testament in the Bible (the Word of God), and then engage in meaningful introspection, and speak with others who believe in this power of nature. Only by doing this, and through human resolve, will a leader be able to develop these character traits. Since you must know, study and understand the power(s) that developed them. You are powerless to win these virtues without the help of this power, and the resolve to gain them.
So it is not easy to accomplish all nine of these virtues, in fact, history says only one man was ever able to accomplish the feat - Jesus. But it is always good to strive to reach for the example he set.