The last couple of days I’ve blogged about what it takes to be a great leader, and I’d like to finish my thoughts on the topic with today’s post. My first post in this series was a summary of the opinions of a well-respected expert in the field. My second post dealt with why people choose to follow a leader; what attracts and draws people to a leader. In this post I want to spend some time discussing what I believe a leader should do once he/she has a following.
I believe that leaders need to be intentional in their leadership. What I mean by this is that leaders need to spend a significant amount of time planning and thinking ahead about the course they want to take. I compare it to hiking a mountain. If you decided that you want to take some friends and hike a mountain but did nothing more than drive to the base of the mountain one day, simply knowing that you wanted to reach the summit, but really had no idea where to start or how to get there, well…you’re in for a long day. And those following you are going to become frustrated and lose faith in your ability to lead them.
You’re going to end up spending half your time looking for a trail to take, and once you find one, you won’t know if that’s the one that will actually take you to top. And what if the trail isn’t what you expect? What if there’s a portion that requires you to stop hiking and start face climbing? Did you pack ropes and other necessary equipment, or did you just assume that it was all hiking and nothing more?
Contrast that to someone who takes the time to research the mountain and its trails before they head out there with a group of friends. Maybe that person decided to scout out the area a couple of weeks before the hike, or perhaps they looked up different trails online, or read what others had to say about the best way to navigate the mountain. That person, who spent the time intentionally planning, preparing, and looking ahead, is going to have a much more pleasant experience. And those who chose to follow that person are going to enjoy their experience, and become more trusting of their leader.
Leadership doesn’t just happen; it’s intentional, it’s planned. If you’re in a position where other people are looking to you for leadership, take some time to consider where you want to go, and the path you will need to take. Spend some time developing a vision, and create a game plan to help make that vision become a reality.