How Effective Leaders Motivate Themselves and Others
What is a leader? Harry Truman said leaders are: “People who can get others to do what they don’t want to do – and get them to enjoy doing it.” Simply put, leadership is influence.
When selecting books on leadership, there are many appropriate worldly examples from which to choose. A simple Google search reveals titles such as Stephen Covey’s: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Dale Carnegie’s immensely popular How to Win Friends & Influence People.
A personal favorite of mine, one that I have recommended many times, is Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. In the book, they effectively blend their experience as officers in the United States military with that of leadership roles in the civilian world.
Their argument is simple, but never easy. As a leader, you are responsible for everything in your sphere of influence. You must own every decision, whether good or bad, and abandon the habit of making excuses.
In the same spirit, this is precisely the tone of Charles Swindoll’s book Hand Me Another Brick. In it, he outlines the uncompromising leadership displayed by Nehemiah as he was called upon to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. In doing so, he made many enemies and his life was under constant threat of physical harm and even death. However, never once did he shirk from the role assigned to him.
In highlighting the exceptional leadership qualities of Nehemiah, Swindoll shows how to apply them in our lives today.
· How to relate to demanding superiors
· How to balance faith in God’s sovereignty and the need for personal planning
· How to handle discouragement at the management level
· How to respond to unwarranted criticism
Swindoll also speaks to Nehemiah’s understanding that a leader has a clear recognition of the needs of his people. That leader is then personally concerned with those needs. Those needs are taken to God first, as we see in Nehemiah 1:5. And then, to be an effective leader, one must always be available to meet those needs him/herself.
Regardless of what the world says, human nature remains the same. Effective leaders are needed in the world, church, and home. That doesn’t mean that discouragement is absent. But Nehemiah was unwavering and unshakable in his faith that God would bless him.
Perhaps, you don’t think of yourself as a leader. If you consider yourself to be a Christian, you are indeed a leader. You are a “city on a hill” – Matthew 5:14. You don’t have to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a five-star general. Effective leadership is needed in the home and among our peers. Each one of us should strive to have a positive influence on the lives of everyone we know.
Several Christians are perhaps unaware that the book of Nehemiah is highly regarded as one of the best books in existence on effective leadership. His was a leadership borne out of despair and adversity, as God’s promise of Israel’s captivity and eventual restoration had now been fulfilled.
To learn more about these great qualities, consider a study of Nehemiah and please consider using Swindoll’s wonderful resource as a guide to ensuring effective leadership in your life and the lives of those around you.