How Can I Help

How can I help you?

These are the most powerful words of leadership.

I first read about this style of leadership in the 80s and practiced it at a company I was at. I would bring in my direct reports who were project managers (engineers) to get updates on the status of a machine we were designing and building. Then I’d ask if there were something I could provide from my position to help them get their job accomplished.

Long ago I interviewed for a job. They asked about management style. I don’t know what the right answer was, but thankfully I didn’t get that job–a better one came along. But I told them, “If I have to tell the employees what to do every step along the way, then I have failed to recruit and train the right people for the jobs. The group is a team with each having roles. My role as leader is to set the direction of the ship and assure that we are all going the right direction together. That we all know what the ‘win’ is.”

Andy Stanley, in his last “Your Move” podcast, talked about such leadership. Stanley has studied and practiced leadership at a level I’ll never reach. He came to the same conclusion.

And this models Jesus’ teaching on leadership. Remember, Jesus biggest threat to the status quo of the time was to totally invert the leadership style of the Romans (and the Jewish hierarchy).

He said that the Romans lord it over the people, but you shall lead as servants.

The prevailing leadership style was to build up the leader at the expense of the led. Jesus’ leadership style was to build up the followers in pursuit of a common “win”. That “win” was to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God and to live a life pleasing to that King.

We humans keep falling back into the imperial, director type of leadership. But more and more often we are seeing examples of Jesus’ type of leadership.

By the way, this is not weak leadership. The leader must be firm and strong about the vision and direction of the group. But she must also be an enabler of the rest of the team.

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