I absolutely love the opportunities I get to speak and teach on the topic of leadership. The chance to encourage other leaders to strive to be their best by leading in the right ways, for the right reasons, is near and dear to my heart to say the least! Of course, one of the coolest things about teaching leadership is that you’re actually modeling the subject your teaching. Think about it. Leadership in its most basic sense is influence. And, when you teach, you’re influencing. But what’s even more important to realize about the opportunity to teach leadership is that, as with all worthwhile opportunities, this opportunity comes with a price, responsibility.
For me, the responsibility that comes with teaching leadership seems fairly simple. I have a responsibility to show up prepared to communicate with clarity. I also I have a responsibility to have a deep understanding of the subject. But most importantly, I have a responsibility to share truth – truth that goes beyond what others want to hear, into what God has impressed upon my heart that they need to hear. So, despite the fact that these days the message folks want to hear, more often then not, is in higher demand than the one they need to hear, I have a responsibility to remain true to the heart of the message – even if it comes at the expense of my own personal popularity.
Leadership in the most basic sense is influence. And, since we course, with influence comes responsibility. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair. Sometimes the standards that come along with that seem unrealistic, but the fact still remains – we each have a role in leadership, and our responsibility within that role naturally increases proportionately. As Luke tells us: To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). I’m convinced this scripture is more applicable to our influence than anything else.
Unfortunately, despite its’ importance, we continue to see a tragic demise in the area of responsibility in leadership today. It seems that more leaders are experts at blaming others for the problems in society, than anything else. Politicians blame politicians, business leaders blame workers, workers blame Wall Street, and yes, we the people blame Washington. Even closer to home, parents blame teachers and coaches; while of course, kids blame everyone they can (What should we expect when that’s what we model to them?). And yet, despite the fact that in many of these cases there’s merit to the blame – we will never fix anything until we learn to look within first. In other words, we must take responsibility for our influence on, and our own contributions to, the problems we face!
My challenge to you is this: As you look around at the problems that lie closest to you, consider how you may have contributed to these problems. Then, even if your role is only 5% of the cause; rather than spend time trying to figure out how to place the blame on others, go to those individuals and take responsibility for that 5%! Ask them to forgive you, and then ask them how they believe you could better influence the situation in the future. Not only is this a huge step of responsibility in leadership, it’s a huge step in reconciling relationships – which in many cases, lies at the very root of the greatest problems society faces today.