Recently I was mulling on Paul's leadership development of Timothy and did a quick look at the kinds of things that he pressed into in his two letters to him. The key issues revolved around these kinds of topics: faithfulness; godliness; being an example; character; boldness; fidelity to the Word along with just plain practical advice. What stuck me once again was that the core of leadership is first what is inside rather than leadership skills themselves. The latter is important but without the former, there is no good leadership.
As I write in my latest book, Deep Influence, we spend too much time in leadership on technique and not nearly enough time on issues of the inner life of a leader. For those of us who lead and mentor others, it is a reminder of how critical the health of our inner life is: spiritual, emotional and relational. Whatever dysfunctions we carry do spill over in unconscious ways in our leadership.
Leadership failures are not usually for lack of skill but for lack of a healthy inner life. In fact, those we lead will put up with a lot if our character and example is one of health and integrity. When that is not present there is little patience. The best leaders I know put a great deal of attention on their own inner health. Both because they desire the greatest personal health possible as well as recognizing the consequences to others if they do not.
Everyone who leads ought to have a plan for personal development. They also need people around them who can help them understand where they need to grow. We often don't see it ourselves but those around us do. This takes time but it is the best time we could ever spend and those we lead will thank us for it.
The time factor is probably what keeps this from happening more often than it should. Leaders are busy and the more success we find the busier we often are - to our own detriment. If we don't feed the core, we will see leakage in the inner life. And that will spill over into our leadership. How much time we devote to our inner lives is a pretty good indication of our priority to become and remain personally healthy.
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