What is the definition of leadership? Leadership is authentically showing others that they are valued, matter and are an asset through service. Effective leaders are kind and unselfish, they show qualities like being generous, seeking justice, and caring about others. An effective leader encourages others to have a voice by allowing them a safe place to speak up. Effective leaders encourage a culture where others feel the freedom to speak up. An effective leader is transparent with decisions that thoughtfully considers the feedback from others when making decisions. Encouraging feedback helps others feel more confident to share concerns, ideas, solutions, or innovations. By empowering others to share concerns, an effective leader reduces the risk of resistance. An effective leader is quick to share power with others to build rapport and trust. True power rests with followers who accept a leader who is all about service and then those followers ascribe personal power to them as a leader. The personal power that is given to an effective leader allows them to lead in a manner that is both ethical and effective. An effective leader is one who knows the needs of others, and empathizes with them in a supportive way that demonstrates that all have value. Knowing what others need and meeting those needs allows them to grow into leaders who will do the same for others.
Three examples of individuals who have demonstrated leadership that fits this definition:
- Peter as a leader defined by the Gospel writers as a leader of service. He was a visionary leader who served the early Christian community. Peter was an effective leader among the group of apostles who was followed by other disciples after the time of Christ. Peter is consistently listed first whenever the disciples are mentioned in the Gospels. Peter had incredible insight and demonstrated his depth of faith in his confession of Christ as the Son of God. This vision and ability to convincingly communicate it gave him both referent power from Christ and expert power from his direct knowledge. These along with the ascribed power from his followers is shown in the Gospel of Matthew Where Jesus explains that upon this rock; upon Peter, the church will be built. For nearly fifteen years after the time of Christ, the leadership of Peter helped the early Church to grow. Peter served as an advocate for the Apostles before the Jewish religious court in Jerusalem when questions came up about the early Christians. Peter set expectations, goals, and corrective actions for those who erred within the church, (Wansbrough, 1999).
- Francis as a leader defined by his life and teachings fits my definition of an effective leader. St. Francis discovered how to be an effective leader as he answered the call to serve. His faithfulness was what allow for his success in leadership. Francis had a number of careers before he found the one that was right for him, (Delbecq, 1999). St. Francis was the son of a successful cloth merchant in thirteenth-century Italy where taking on the family business could have made him very successful. St. Francis tried to be a knight, a playboy, a soldier, and a cloth merchant. St. Francis tried these career paths to see which might suit him best. God’s call to restore the church was when he discovered his true leadership path. As St. Francis persevered in pursuing a life of service, people began to believe in his vision and started following him. St. Francis at the height of his leadership had followers that numbered in the thousands. By being an authentic leader in the face of disagreement and ridicule, Francis forged a new way in service that a great number of others wanted to learn to be like him. As an effective leader he showed love and courage that influenced many people through his example. His leadership style has attracted many followers through the years, and his teachings are timeless and continue to live on today in the Franciscan order of brothers who serve, educate, and help others to learn the ways of St. Francis, (Delbecq, 1999).
- Joseph of the Old Testament fits my definition of an effective leader. St. Joseph was a strategic planner. He instructed the officials of Egypt to prepare for a famine that was years away from happening. St. Joseph was an effective leader who was wise and full of knowledge from a well-founded education. He was thirty years old when he stepped in to help set up Egypt for the famine, (Wansbrough, 1999). As an effective leader he demonstrated a seasoned perspective with decision after decision about how to feed the entire country. St. Joseph was a humble leader because the power and prestige of his position working for Pharaoh never changed his principles of good integrity and character. He was honest and ethical in all his actions. St. Joseph was an effective leader with the discipline of a proper long term perspective that allowed him to prepare all of Egypt for the future. St. Joseph was faithful and loyal. Throughout all of his struggles including time in prison, Joseph remained faithful to God. St. Joseph showed great empathy even to his own brothers when they came begging for food years after selling him into slavery. St. Joseph held himself to high quality standards. As the manager of the family sheep flock, as a servant, or as the interpreter of Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph gave the very best of himself in all that he did, (Wansbrough, 1999).
Delbecq, A. L. (1999). Christian spirituality and contemporary business leadership. Journal of organizational change management.
Wansbrough, H. (1999). The New Jerusalem Bible: Standard Edition. St. Francis of Assisi Books.