I’m talking leadership today and those who’ve followed me over the years know that I don’t do that very often – not because I don’t think it’s an important topic, but rather because I don’t feel particularly qualified in that area.
When I think of great leaders, I think of people who started movements and changed the world with their forward-thinking vision. When I think of myself, I think of a guy just struggling to figure out what to preach for this week’s sermon.
Great leaders are the guys who know what they’re doing – the guys who got it all figured out. Great leaders are the ones who have all the answers. Right???
WRONG! It isn’t often that I speak about leadership, but today I’m going to share the single greatest piece of advice that can help anyone take a step towards becoming a great leader.
It’s advice I heard from Andy Stanley during a message he preached on leadership to pastors over 3 years ago. No matter who you are or what you do, if you can learn to do this ONE THING and do it on a consistent basis, I guarantee it will turn you into a better leader – or better father/mother, or better husband/wife, or better man/woman of God.
But before I tell you the advice, answer one question for me. What’s more valuable: a QUESTION or an ANSWER?
Most would say that an answer is better than a question – but I beg to differ. While everyone else is looking for answers, great leaders are looking to ask the right questions – questions that will take you to the next level. Answers tell you where you’re at and where you’ve been; questions push you to see what “could be.”
That’s why I say that my job as priest isn’t to have all the answers, but rather to help you ask the right questions.
For example, a man once came to me and said “I don’t know what to do. I can either stay at my current job which will fulfill my career goals and help me provide for my family financially, or take a new job which will allow me to spend more time with my family. Which should I choose?”
I respond not with an answer, but with a question: “can’t you find a way to do both? I believe you can and the challenge for you is to go out there and find it.”
The result? The man tells his current employer that he plans to leave his job to allow more time to be home with his family. His boss reworks his schedule and allows him to begin working from home once a week to meet his new demands - and also gives him a salary increase as well!
Why? Not because that person had an answer, but rather because he asked the right question. Questions push you to discover new answers and find new solutions. So again, I say that great leaders aren’t people who have all the answers, but rather people who ask the right questions.
So with that said, what’s my #1 piece of advice to help transform anyone into a better leader? Learn to ask this question before making any decision: what would a GREAT leader do?
That’s it. It’s that simple. Forget what you’ve heard about leadership before, and start right there. Learn to ask yourself that one question and I guarantee it will help you on your way towards becoming a great leader. How?
Let’s say you’re faced with a tough situation and you don’t know what to do. It could be an underperforming employee at work, or a rambunctious child at home, or a not-so-friendly barista at the coffee shop. The circumstances don’t really matter. Someone is pushing your buttons and you’re getting worked up. What do you do?
You know what you WANT to do – you want to go crazy on them and give them a piece of your mind. But then you ask: what would a great leader do? Would a great leader yell? Would a great leader lash out? Or would a great leader handle it differently?
You may not know what to do but just asking the question will inspire you to think beyond the limits of “this is what I normally do” or “this is how I always handle it.” Being a great leader means going outside your comfort zone and doing what needs to be done, even if it isn’t what I feel like doing.
So start asking yourself:
What would a great HUSBAND do?
What would a great FATHER do?
What would a great BOSS do?
What would a great FRIEND do?
What would a great JESUS FOLLOWER do?
You may not know the answer to any of those questions right now, but I guarantee that you’ll be better off for at least having asked them.