The formation of a leader Part 2 L065

We have said it takes time for the formation of a leader, and alluded to the fact that times of difficulty are usually part of the formation process. In fact I would go as far as to say that trials are an essential component of becoming a great leader. If there is nothing to overcome we can never be an over-comer, if there is nothing to beat, we will never be a winner. We know when we have met someone who has been through times of trial, they have an inner strength that you know will impart courage to others. They have a unique heart-felt compassion that gives grace to others. Their attitudes are not judgemental or condemning. Their whole demeanour says ‘I’ve been there, I know what it feels like.’

The unexpected debt that Jenny and I found ourselves in in 2008, which at its worst looked like it would bankrupt us, was a massive learning curve for us. Not since one of our children had life-threatening bacterial meningitis 25 years ago, had we felt so close to the edge. I remember going to our ballroom dancing class one night just after the awful reality had hit us. As we quickstepped round the room I remember feeling slightly dizzy and disconnected from my body. My feet were just about moving in the right direction, but my head felt like it was going to explode. I even wondered if I would faint. I thought ‘so this is what it feels like heading into a stress related nervous breakdown.’

By the grace of God we pulled back from the edge and over the next 12 months stabilised our finances so that we could live without being dominated by worry and stress. It was a formative experience and remains so to this day. In it all God has been reassuring me that this is all preparation for going to the next level of leadership – hopefully Jim Collins’ or John Maxwell’s level 5 leadership. Leadership formation never ceases, unless we settle for our current altitude. They say your attitude will determine your altitude in life; this is certainly true in leadership. If we keep the teachable, humble attitude of the learner who prizes on-going personal development, there are no limits to the heights we can reach.

What could sabotage the efforts of our Creator to continue to develop us till the day we die?
• An unteachable attitude will certainly stop us dead.
• A fear of the unknown and the trials of life will keep us rooted to our current level; it makes us want to hang onto what we have, rather than be willing to let go of it to discover new horizons – like the boat that refuses to leave the harbour for fear of the storms that will inevitably come.
• Running away from trials rather than pressing through them will mean we just have to face the same lesson in a different way at a later date – God has no exam failures, but plenty of resits!
• Blaming others when things go wrong is a sure way of refusing to learn the lessons and grow through them. It’s human nature to want to take the credit when things go well, but to pass the buck when things go pear-shaped. Blaming others is a sign of immaturity, fear and insecurity. Accepting responsibility for our mistakes is crucial to personal growth, but it’s also vital to take responsibility for our direct reports, or those we have responsibility for. They may have been at fault, but the growing leader will accept that the buck stops with them. Quite the opposite reaction from the one we see from politicians when they mess up.

How do we cope when we hit the wall, when all our plans go massively astray, when the unexpected tsunami of circumstances hits us like a tidal wave, when our marriage feels like it’s falling apart, when our organisation suddenly starts to implode, when we run out of luck and out of hope. How we respond is crucial to growing up and not going down. We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we can change our response to them. Indeed our response may be the only thing we still have control of. But it is in fact the most important thing to be in control of. Our response is the doorway to our recovery.

As Christians we can of course turn to God and start to thank Him that he hasn’t changed, that His character is still trustworthy, that He hasn’t left us, that He is working all things together for good, that he will sustain us through the trial and that He will bring us out the other side. This is our starting point, and a massively important foundation.

The next step is to start to look at the situation through 3 filters, to see it from 3 different angles – and we’ll look at that in the next instalment!

This entry was posted by nic on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 at 9:00 am and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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