Some of the best leaders I’ve ever worked with were the best because they kept it simple. Not simple as in “easy-to-accomplish,” but simple in philosophy and in intention.
All too often leadership theory becomes a difficult combination of strange words, unusual or forced principles and too many unnecessary steps. It reminds me of when my wife and I were newly married. We were learning how to not only be husband and wife but then in just a few years, also mom and dad to two little children. Some of the parenting books we read at the time caused us to almost give up hope. The books told us that there was a lot of stuff that we weren’t supposed to do, words that we were warned not to use and particular activities that were to be introduced at very specific ages. It was tempting to throw up our hands and surrender. Ultimately we thought it best to get rid of the books and just use some common sense.
Common sense worked the best, particularly with a little help from the Book of Proverbs.
Leadership is really very much the same. It’s really more about some very simple and very easy to understand values that we as leaders embrace, and then model and ultimately teach. Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of all time, and leading England at the time when the entire world needed him the most, said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
Leadership is all about leading people. Management on the other hand is about managing tasks and not about people. People are much more likely to be motivated to follow time-tested principles and values that have a lasting impact for the greater good. Great leaders have always understood that people are much more likely to embrace the principles and values that help them become a part of that which is greater than themselves.
Jesus in many ways had a leadership style that also embraced that which was simple but that which was also great and transformational at the same time. Joy, peace, truth and love were common themes for Jesus. All of these are one syllable words that have great impact. To his followers, Jesus gave values to embrace and simple instructions to obey. Those that listened to Jesus became his disciples and ultimately changed the world. When we as leaders embrace his principles and his values, we ultimately walk where Jesus walked and can then lead others to follow as well.
by Ken Behr
Reprint from ChurchExecutive.com August 2010