An Ageless Perspective on Genuine Leadership

"Genuine leadership comes from the quality of your vision and your ability to spark others to extraordinary performance."

- Jack Welch

leadership-whiteboardOver the past 4 years I have been privileged to work side-by-side with peers and thought leaders to focus on developing greater vision, alignment, and traction both in my own company as well as helping guide others with theirs. This has been an incredible learning experience as we have shared ideas, best practices, and processes, holding each other accountable along the way.

As I read books from great authors like Pat Lencioni, Jim Collins, Gino Wickman, and others on leading a business, I noticed how these great thought leaders are all within our lifetime. Perhaps it is the power of the internet to know and be known that has opened the floodgates for leadership development. At the same time I wondered why there didn’t appear to be much in the way of thought leaders before our time who shared their experiences outside the occasional quote or biography.

That was until recently. During a time of daily devotions I was studying Philippians 3. As I read through verses 12 to 19 I happened to read them in The Message translation. Wow, what an AHA moment. While I know Paul was speaking towards a relationship with Christ, the parallels with vision, alignment, and traction are astonishing.

How is that you ask? Let me share.

Paul on Vision
As business leaders we desire to create a great vision for our company and lead the way. As Paul writes:

12 – 14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

While Paul has a clear vision of where he is heading, like many of us he doesn’t have it all together yet. He has clarity on the fact that he is no expert, yet he knows the goal and is completely focused on it. He is off and running, no turning back.

What a great perspective to embrace. How often do we lose our focus and take our eye of the goal because we don’t have it all together, are afraid to make a mistake, and second guess ourselves. Like Paul, I believe if we admit we aren’t there yet, we aren’t an expert, but it will not discourage us we will gain the support of our team and keep moving forward.

Leadership Takeaways:

– Remember, you don’t have to always be the smartest person in the room or the expert. Let your team discover what they love (that benefits the organization), then convince you why you should love it too.

– Acknowledge your mistakes and be a “The buck stops here” leader. One who is willing to accept responsibility for both your own mistakes as well as those of your team.

 Paul on Alignment
Hopefully we understand the importance of alignment in achieving our vision. Paul follows up in verses 15 – 16 with this:

15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Paul encourages the people of Philipi to stay aligned with each other, focused on the goal. Making sure we have the same understanding of the vision, the same message. And if not, seeking for clarity. Then urging everyone to stay aligned.

Leadership Takeaways:

– Keep your eye on the goal/vision. While the journey may take many twists and turns, the goal/vision only changes if you allow it to change and your team is looking to you to be steadfast.

– Be attentive to “blurred vision”. Over communicate clarity and make sure a consistent message cascades throughout the entire organization making sure everyone is on the same page, telling the same story.

Paul on Traction
Thomas Edison said “Vision without execution is hallucination”. In many of today’s circles we refer to execution as traction. Beginning down a path and finishing it to completion.

17-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street…

Paul instructs us to stick together and seek out others who are around us and working towards the same goals. He also warns against following those that do not share the same vision, are not aligned with us and willing to stay the course.

Leadership Takeaways:

– Invite your team on the journey alongside you, not behind you.

– Always keep your eyes open and aware of who is genuinely aligned and keeping up. Recognize their alignment and effort.

– Beware those who are not only “Not On-board”, but are in fact pulling people in another direction. Address them quickly so they do not delay progress toward the vision.

 Now you may believe that the Bible is book written by men or the infallible, authoritative Word of God. Regardless of your stance, the Bible is filled from cover to cover with advice, perspectives, and best practices on vision, core values, clarity, traction, communication, goals, process, people, focus, strategy, and much more. Paul’s letter to Philippi is just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg worthy of inspection and reference.

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