Lessons in Leadership: Leading those Closest to You

I’m having a thought and I thought I’d share it with you to help me formulate a theory. I’m sure someone, somewhere has already come across this and written a book about it.

Here’s the basic thought: Leading the masses is much easier than leading those closest to you. But without leading those closest to you, you’ll never really lead the masses.

It’s easy to get up in front of a large group of people and sell a product. It’s actually not that hard to sway the masses with a charismatic personality and good smile. Some positive reinforcement and a high five goes a long way. Close the deal, close the show, and everybody’s happy.

What’s hard is leading a team. What’s hard is being a partner. What’s hard is creating trust that causes people to stick through the good times and bad. That takes work, real day to day, in the trenches work.

  • A SEAL Team leader who is responsible for the very lives of his men
  • A Quarterback who calls for a hail mary when it’s 4th and long
  • A CEO who has an idea to reinvent the company to stay current
  • A Pastor who isn’t afraid to lose popularity in order to follow God’s call

I think a lot about what 1 Timothy says about leadership. It says that if a man cannot lead his home, than he can’t lead a church. I think that’s true for all types of leadership. Of course it’s possible to lead, but you end up trading those closest to you for those who really don’t know or love you. Leading those closest to you is the true test of leadership.

Here’s where I fail. I tend to show more mercy and grace to those furthest from me. And I’m hardest on those closest to me. I tend to lead others with gentleness and positive vision. I lead my family with less than that. Why is this? I don’t listen well enough to those who know me best. Why?

I think that when people spend more and more time with you, they begin to see through the exterior shell of who we say we are. They see our flaws, our inconsistencies, they see us for who we really are. Not just our families, but our teams, our co-workers, those who are in constant contact with us. When this happens we have two choices (I think).

  1. We can learn from those around us and begin to explore their opinions and comments on our character, on our methods, our lifestyles, our leadership. We can become better leaders.
  2. Or we can be stubborn and push those closest to us away, protecting our egos and our way of doing things. Which results in isolation and a false sense of reality.

The bummer is that usually those who aren’t close to leaders have a false understanding of who they really are, and they definitely don’t have the platform to speak into our lives. I think this is how many leaders get into trouble morally, financially, with their integrity. We don’t lead those closest to us well and give them permission to hold us accountable.

Anyway, these are just thoughts on Leadership that I am having…

3 thoughts on “Lessons in Leadership: Leading those Closest to You

  1. James McLean

    wow! this just blew my mind. great thoughts! and so true.

    the other reason i believe it is important to lead those closest to you (or sometimes be lead by those closest to you) is that we should always be multiplying leaders. I believe that this is truly what it means to make disciples. We are leading others who lead others who lead others to Jesus.

    James McLeans last blog post..Moving from Ideal to Real: If Only

  2. Justin Dean

    Dude, That was an amazing post. I am really dealing with this right now in my ministry. Things are really going well with the big picture but my relationships are struggling. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Justin Deans last blog post..Wild Goose Chase

  3. alex

    Man I’m glad this resonates. I kind have to check my thoughts and feelings cuz it’s so easy to get into the “I’m right” mentality. We’re all learning together – if we just all stay humble and teachable…

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