Monday, July 25, 2011

10 Commandments of Leadership

I took a "Leadership" class in my last year of high school, and one of our first assignments was to write up a list of what we would consider 10 important rules for leaders to follow. My answers were adapted to fit with the context of the course (public school, etc) but were massively driven by the Gospel and by my personal experiences in youth & children's ministries leading up to that point. I just came across the assignment and thought it'd be interesting to do a post about them. Below are my "Ten Commandments of Leadership"- the italics are things that I added just now while putting it up on this blog, and the rest is what I had originally written years ago...

These are in no particular order of importance, because I think they're all super important and it's up to the leader in question to decide which is most important to them at any given time. That's crazy talk, obviously the most important one is the First and Great Commandment, which is probably something I unconsciously realized at the time, as I wrote it first on the list!

  1. Love your neighbour- I personally think this is important for leadership because if a leader can’t get along with his team or another leader, that’s going to cause a lot of problems. Also, and arguably more importantly, because God commands it, but whatever, right?
  2. Know your stuff- Don’t try to lead an activity unless you know what it involves. We’ve all seen how hard it is to get up and improvise a warm-up in front of the class, so that’s the kind of thing that’s best to avoid when you have the option. Never get up in front of everyone expecting the words to just come out- they usually won’t. Unless you're really good at improv. I think I definitely agree that preparedness is a good quality, though I'd have to say there are some times where it's really good to expect the unexpected, and the ability to improvise a game at the last minute or put together a worship set on short notice is a really useful one to have.
  3. Be prepared- See number 2. If you have time to check your facebook, brush your hair or call your significant other, you have time to prepare your work. I think I was probably copping out with this one and just repeating number 2. Probably the difference was that #2 was about being mentally prepared and #3 was about physical preparation (having all props, media etc ready to go)
  4. Present yourself- I’m not saying you have to look clean (though that’s a good idea unless you have a good excuse), but don’t go up in front of a group of people, mumbling and not looking at the people in the audience. Use your leadership voice- Diaphragm, people, diaphragm! I guess this one does kind of go without saying. It's not super important for a leader to look drop-dead gorgeous all the time or like a TV host, but it's always good to be presentable. Even though in an ideal world people would look past the exterior, there's something about a good physical appearance that tends to command respect and draw attention, both of which are good things for a leader to have.
  5. Teamwork and communication- Do it. Way to go, high-school-senior-Tom, thanks for elaborating on that thought. You were probably busy talking to cute girls and got distracted, didn't you? That's okay, we all do.
  6. Honesty is the best policy- Don’t lie to people. Don’t make excuses for yourself. If you didn’t do something, just be honest about it. Being able to admit your mistakes is a good character trait. I think this one's pretty important. 1 John 1:5-10 says that if we aren't living in the light (and in the truth!) then we can't have fellowship with the Lord. So this is important to keep in mind. You don't need to tell everyone everything, but you do need to be accountable, especially to the people above you, and not keep things in the dark.
  7. Humility- Don’t let your title of “leader” get to your head. There’s a difference between being proud and being prideful. One means you’re happy to do the things that you do, the other means you place yourself above someone else because of them. Can you guess which one’s okay? While I think I may have been a little vague about that one, I think I got the point across. It's super important to be humble about the gifts that God has given you- after all, they're gifts, so you really can't take credit for them even if you want to! But you can definitely appreciate them and make the most of them! The only thing worse than being prideful is having false humility- putting yourself down and dismissing your giftings.
  8. Enjoy yourself- This is a big one. A leader should always show that they love their team and their job, because their attitude is the energy that fuels the team! I totally stole that quote from somewhere, but it’s true and a good principal to live by! You should try to enjoy everything you’re doing in life. Also, it’s my belief that teaching/leading is a job people should only have if they enjoy it, so of course it’s essential for my list. But don't fake it! If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you don't have to sulk all the time, but you shouldn't put on a big dopey smile just to convince people you're happy. Be real about your emotions, people respect leaders who are in touch with their feelings but also aren't controlled by them.
  9. Be professional- Don’t swear at your team, or insult them or let your personal problems affect the way you lead. That’s not to say you can’t have problems or be open about them, but you shouldn’t let them affect you to the point where your teaching suffers. And if you have problems, you should be praying through them, repenting and turning away from whatever is causing them. I actually am not really sure why high-school-senior-Tom called this one "be professional," because there's a lot more to professionalism than emotional attitude, and vice versa.
  10. Always look for strong character in your team- See how they live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are great qualities and traits that everyone should try to have. It’s good to point these things out to them as well. A strong character makes a better person down the line. Yes! Seek to love, forgive, encourage and rebuke your fellow leaders with an attitude of grace and constant love! If you see someone struggling, help them with their troubles, and if you see someone growing in one area, encourage that and support it whatever way you can!
Not too shabby for something I probably wrote in twenty minutes the night before the due date, eh? I would go back in time and pat myself on the back, but I have to go make dinner. Greek salad and breaded chicken breasts tonight <3

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