01 Oct '13
The dual nature of leadership
Good leadership always has two sides that must be nurtured: Heart and skill. Neither one is sufficient without the other and wise leaders pay equal attention to both.
The author of Psalm 78 puts it in perspective when he says this about one of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament - David. "He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep be brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:72)."
When the author says that God chose David and took him from the sheep pens he is making the point that when God looks for leaders He is looking for a certain kind of leader. He is not looking for impressive looking resumes or great academic credentials. He is looking for people who have hearts of integrity - an inner life that is healthy and people who can lead others with skillful hands. The sheep pen is not where most people would look for a leader but God is not a respecter of persons.
Hearts of integrity are critical for leadership because it is out of our inner life that our leadership ultimately overflows. What is inside is what flows into our leadership. What most leaders don't understand is that before everything else, the healthier they are as people in spiritual, relational and emotional health the better leaders they will be. Those who do understand that pay close attention to the development of each of those three areas because it is health in all three that give us integrity of heart - wholeness of heart.
The other side of the coin is the ability to lead with skillful hands. There is an art to leading people. It is a unique combination of having a vision that others want to participate in, the ability to align them around a common mission, to encourage, help envision, organize and empower. Ironically one cannot do any of those well without attention to the inner life.
Because leadership is always about people one of the most important skills of a leader is to understand and relate to those they lead in a healthy and positive way. Unskilled leaders negatively impact those around them (poor EQ) while skilled leaders positively impact those around them. Healthy leaders create environments where people love to work and where the common mission is the glue that holds the team together. People skills are a huge part of the equation in leadership but leaders who don't understand and manage themselves will not understand and manage others. It always goes back to the inner life.
When we think leadership we think of the public activities of a leader. Most of what leaders do, however is behind the scenes or underneath the waterline - invisible to others. It is the stuff of self knowledge and inner health coupled with the skill of dealing with people and calling them to a cause worth giving their energy too. It is integrity of heart and skillful hands together.