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50 Years of Leadership Lessons

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Like a groupie, I was so thrilled when he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Hello, Francis. Nice to meet you.”

This was the very brief encounter I had with the man I had read, listened to, admired, and emulated all these years. He was tall and stocky, mature for his age. His book The Quest for Character fashioned my way of thinking and honed my behavior, not only in the way I do business but in the way I live my life.

Later on, books with titles like Come Before Winter and Grace Awakening deepened my walk with God. And this person, who has lived a life of exemplary obedience to God’s Word, is none other than Charles Swindoll, better known as ‘Chuck.’

After being given the lifetime achievement award at the Catalyst Conference in 2009, Swindoll listed down the important lessons he has learned in his 50 years of experience as mentor and leader. If you have a person who has consistently shown competence, communication skills, compassion, consistency, and character, it is worth listening to his observations and applying them to your own arsenal of leadership tools.

Chuck Swindoll spoke on 10 Things I Have Learned During Nearly 50 Years in Leadership. They are:
1. It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2. It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes, God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3. It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4. It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.

5. It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably, you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7. Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: Some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8. Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9. God’s way is better than my way.

10. Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

Which of these lessons strike you most? Why? If you were to add an 11th lesson, what would it be?

Leadership has never been about position. Leadership is stewardship of influence; a blessed opportunity that God has given us to make a difference in the lives of people.

If you were to go out of your office and talk to random people on the streets, would they even bother to listen to you?

Now, think about this. The people you deal with in the workplace affords you with a blessed opportunity to make a difference in their lives. So, rather than boss them around (building an even more inflated ego), why not serve them and mentor them in positive ways? Why not make better people out of them?

Why is leadership important? As I constantly repeat in my seminars and workshops, leadership is important because your people will forget what you have accomplished for yourself, but they will never forget what you have done for them.

Print ed: 08/13


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