The world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. We have seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of society throughout the world.
Looking at the world around us, it is easy to assume that the only way to lead is to look out for ourselves. Looking at Jesus offers a different perspective. We hear His words “Not so with you.” We see Him wash His disciples’ feet. His words and actions model a new way of leadership.
Our experiences and learnings in the last 10 years with our Lead Like Jesus ministry have continually reminded us that the most important thing in leadership is the leader; the most important part of the leader is his or her heart; and the most important connection to a leader’s heart is God.
Most leadership resources focus on management techniques, competencies, strategies and tactics while ignoring the most important part of leadership—the leaders themselves. At Lead Like Jesus, we believe real, lasting change starts on the inside. When a leader chooses to allow Jesus to transform him or her from the inside out, that choice will have an effect on everyone and everything that leader influences. We are clear: You can’t lead like Jesus without Jesus.
A tremendous benefit happens in the lives of people who lead like Jesus: freedom. Jesus is the only one who offers a model of leadership that’s built on freedom and complete security in Him and His power at work within us. While the world continues to throw solutions at us that are built on self-empowerment, self-reliance, competition, peer pressure and performance, leading like Jesus frees us to reach heights of influence we never would be able to reach on our own. When we are free from pride and fear, free to humbly accept feedback and admit our mistakes, and strong enough to overlook offenses and forgive the errors of others, we can lead people and help them reach their full potential.
Still, in the perspective of some leaders, leading like Jesus is “soft” or impractical. For this reason, many leaders continue to bypass it. The results of this way of thinking are clear: continued struggles, dissatisfied employees, frustrated leaders, broken families, split churches, and chaotic, poor performing teams and organizations.
Try to imagine leaders who lead like Jesus. Leaders who love those they influence so much that they help them get from where they are to where God would have them go. Leaders who hold people accountable, encourage them daily, confront challenges, and bring authenticity, character and integrity to every interaction. Leaders who want to guide others on the same path. Now imagine a world full of those leaders.
There is no need to search further. We have the perfect leadership role model in Jesus. We simply need to follow Him and allow Him to work in us and through us.
Even though we have been declaring for many years that Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time, we have not realized the full extent of leadership gifts He offers us. Jesus is not only the greatest servant leader but also the greatest visionary, the greatest team builder, the greatest team motivator, and the greatest change agent of all time. In fact, we cannot think of any attribute of leadership that Jesus did not model for everyone as He trained His disciples. Now, more than 2,000 years later, Jesus still has more followers than any leader the world has ever had.
We have also learned that leading like Jesus is love-based leadership. In fact, God intends the primary outcome of our leadership and influence to be showing people Jesus’ love. Leading like Jesus is essentially a matter of the heart. It is also the highest thought of the head, it is the principal work of the hands, and it is both expressed through and replenished by the habits.
The formula Everything – Love = Nothing is not of our making. It is the irrefutable law of the kingdom of God, perfectly fulfilled by Jesus. It is also the defining characteristic of the leadership model of Jesus: Leading like Jesus means loving like Jesus.
Whose model of leadership are you following?
Editor’s note: Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges also contributed to this article. They are both are best-selling authors and leadership trainers. In 1999, they co-founded the Lead Like Jesus ministry, which seeks to help men and women of faith walk their talk in the marketplace.
This article originally appeared in “Faith at Work: Individual Purpose, Flourishing Communities,” a special report released by IFWE and the Washington Times. Reprinted with permission.