Leadership is relational as much as it is positional.
As a leader, if you take a relational approach to leadership, you will never walk alone. If you are a positional leader on the other hand, you will often find yourself walking a very lonely road. Every time you use your title to “persuade” your people to do something, you create a distance between yourself and them. You are essentially saying, “I’m up here and you are down there, so do what I say”. This makes people feel small, alienates them and drives a wedge between you and them. A good leader does not belittle people. He/she enlarges them.
We are living in times when leadership, or lack thereof is being exposed. We have many positional leaders and very few relational leaders. For instance, no sooner had the first corona-virus case in Kenya been confirmed upon which President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined measures to contain it than some Cabinet Secretaries came out to issue edicts in succession. The import of such belated, even perfunctory action, is that Cabinet Secretaries are beholden to the presidency and cannot independently exercise authority bestowed upon them. Not that President Uhuru Kenyatta has his CS’s on a short leash they are simply lackadaisical as to cast Uhuru’s leadership as benignly totalitarian. Kenya deserves the likes of former Cabinet ministers Arthur Magugu, Karisa Maitha and John Michuki who eschewed the comforts of their offices for the practical; going out to the field, making sure everything worked as it was meant to.
Edicts issuing out of top public offices underscore the disconnect between holders of those offices and the reality – the people.
And this my friends is the concern I have for leaders. Many of our leaders lead from their positions as opposed to leading from their hearts. I believe it is time that as a leader, you start moving from your head to you heart.
My experiences and learning have continued to remind me that the most important thing in leadership is the Leader. The most important part of the Leader is his/her heart and the most important connection to a leader’s heart is God. The best leaders know that leading people means loving them. While the world continues to throw solutions at us that are built on self-empowerment, self-reliance, competition, peer pressure and performance, leading with your heart frees you to reach heights of influence you never would be able to reach otherwise.
Remember, Leadership is a journey that begins with your own transformation and progresses to you leading another person.
However, the first step to leading is examining yourself. This is at the core of true leadership. You should be able to answer two questions:
1.Whose am I? This determines the primary authority and audience in your life. The person to whom you are answerable. This is the person whom you trust and look to above all else. Your decision about whose you are changes everything. If you choose to follow Jesus, you are not on your own. You are not living to please yourself or other people.
2.Who am I? This question prompts healthy self-examination and it determines your identity and life Purpose. You were born with a God-given Purpose and plan for your life and you were created perfectly to fulfill this Purpose. This means aligning your heart, head, hands and habits.
Your answers to Whose am I and Who am I will change everything and you will lead others from that new point of view. You will gain the trust of your followers and your impact will be magnified. Stop trying you change from you outside, which is what most leadership seminars, training and books focus on behavior, style and methods. Your leadership will only improve if you change on the inside; if you get your heart right. The heart is the answer to your why. The why you lead and the reason you do what you do; your heart is home to your intentions and motivation. It is the core of who you are.
My friends, remember that the important thing about being a Leader is not what happens when you are present but what happens when the leader is absent.
In conclusion, let me ask you a question, do you put your title, the bottom line, target/goals ahead of people because people will distract you from achieving? Are you better at the technical side of leading; strategy, planning, finances etc. If you are more of a technical leader, remember that leadership is a people business.
If you are in a leadership position, do not rely on your title to convince people to follow you. Build relationships, win people over with your heart, head, hands and habits.