"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and don't lean on yourown understanding. In all things acknowledge him, and he shall direct your way."
[Proverbs 3:5, 6]

Leadership Principles

Effective Leaders Have the Ability to Connect With Their Team

A leader’s ability to motivate their team is significantly more effective when they have a connection with those on their team. Read John 10:11-18.

Jesus identified His leadership style as that of a good shepherd. The people closest to Him responded to His leadership in part because they seen Him act on their behalf and therefore trusted Him to have their best interests at heart. The shepherd metaphor evokes the image of a leader that knows more than the names of those on His team. The shepherd leader tends to be sincere and even intimate as they guide, correct, protect and train their team.

In verses 11 through 13 Jesus contrasts the shepherd’s care of their flock to the hireling’s care of the flock. The contrast is meant to illustrate one leader that is physically and emotionally involved with those under his care with a leader who is primarily interested in their own welfare. My personal experience is that those on my team could eventually identify deceptive leadership and once identified, it could take years to win back their trust.

When Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd He was not speaking of a leadership style, He was identifying a core truth about the value of the people He led – so valuable that He would fight for them. The Bible tells of several different leadership styles used by Jesus; Jesus was very direct leader when He drove the merchants from the temple in John 2 but a compassionate leader when He was confronted by the Pharisees who demanded He pronounce judgment on the woman caught in adultery in John 8. These verses in John 10 point to Jesus’ core truth that the people He led had great value. When leaders truly believe that each member of their team is valuable as a human being, developing a connection with their teammates is not only possible but will start to feel natural.

Does it feel like your team does not embrace your leadership? Do you feel isolated from your team? Have you noticed your team doing what you ask more because of your positional authority than your personal authority? Does it feel like your team completes their assignments but never goes the extra mile without further prompting? It may be that you either have not developed a connection with your teammates or have lost connection. If you desire a change, start by looking at your core truths about the value of the people you lead. When a leader can see their team as Jesus saw His team, not only will the leader change but so will the attitude of their team members.

Genesis 1:26-27 “26 Then God said, ‘Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”

Effective Leaders Understand the Value of Rewards

Effective leaders understand the value of rewards. Read John 10:7-10.

Jesus was past the mid-point of his earthly ministry. He was under a lot of pressure from some powerful religious leaders to clearly identify Himself and His mission. The “everyday” people were attracted to Jesus message of hope but many kept their distance because they feared the wrath of the religious leaders. Jesus, understanding the people’s need for hope, used an agrarian illustration of sheep, shepherds and the sheep pen to remind the people of the benefits and rewards of following Him. In verse 9 Jesus told His listeners that if they entered relationship with God through Him they would find a safe place where life’s needs would be supplied. This is an important point, before a reward system can be effective, the basic needs must be met. For employees this would include such things as fair wage. In verse 10 Jesus goes even further and says, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:7-10 has several transferable principles concerning the effective use of rewards. Jesus didn’t get too specific in identifying the rewards but allowed each person to imagine how listening to His voice might bring them life to the full. The leader’s job is to discover categories of rewards that best motivates their team. It can be very effective to create a reward structure that allows your team member to choose a reward that fits their preference. Two or three categories are generally all that are needed. Examples might be a selection of several work rewards such as time off with pay, or financial rewards such as a bonus or even participation in a meeting, or travel that would normally be restricted to a specific group. When I served as Director of Operations at World Wide Pictures we offered the potential to be on a movie set as one of the reward options and it turned out to be quite effective.

Do you have an effective reward system in place? Could you identify two or three categories of rewards that might garner enthusiasm among your team members? Do you see an area where rewards may generate better morale or higher productivity? Is there a way you could test a reward system without creating expectations of a permanent program? Jesus found a way to use the concept of rewards without drawing attention away from His primary mission.

Revelation 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

Which elements in your leadership are most lacking?

God is the ultimate leader and the obvious place to start when looking at elements of individual leadership. Read Genesis 1:1-31.

God initiated the creation of the universe. He made something from nothing. God demonstrated the use of a step-by-step process over a period of time to bring order out of disorder. Because the process took six days to complete doesn’t mean God did not have an end in mind when He started the project. Being God, He could have jumped over the process to the end product in an instant but He chose to utilize a specific process. The following are just a few truths that leaders can learn from God’s process in creating the universe: Continue reading

When is the last time you evaluated your organizational structure? (214-4)

Effective leaders pay attention to structure and organization to insure the structure continues to benefit the organization’s mission. Read Deuteronomy 1:1-15.

The universe has overwhelming evidence of God’s use of structure and organization in the intelligent design of creation.  Even the simplest living organism is more complex and subtle than the most sophisticated computer. The Bible gives insight into God’s instructions concerning structure and organization to Moses, the leader He chose to lead His people from a time of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. When carrying total responsibility for leadership of the people of Israel overwhelmed Moses, God encouraged him to change the organizational structure so as to channel more of Israel’s human resources to fulfill the leadership needs. Wisely Moses accepted God’s counsel. Continue reading

Does your organizational structure still effectively serve the needs of your organization? (214-3)

Effective leaders create structure that addresses the methods by which resources flow through the organization to accomplish work. Read Numbers 11:1-35.

When Moses couldn’t handle all of the responsibilities of leading Israel, God told him to enlist seventy qualified persons, empower them and allow them to help to carry the burden. Moses was overwhelmed and the people under-served so God took action. The existing system wasn’t working so He changed it. It wasn’t about “who’s the boss”, it was about who would serve the people. Continue reading

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