Did you know that we’re in a global leadership crisis?
That thought has popped in the news a lot lately. There have
been breathless editorials from all angles about the decline of leadership in
government, education, entertainment, religion, business, art, and the family.
We’re not as strong as we used to be seems to be the common refrain, and our
world is on the verge of collapse because of it.
Suddenly, leadership is a hot-button issue. A must-have skill set.
It’s become a popular field of study, found everywhere from
high schools to higher ed. In some ways, it’s gratifying. I’ve been teaching
about the importance of leadership for over forty years, so the surge of
interest is nice. As I hear more about the leadership deficit, the same
solution is pushed forward repeatedly: we need more men and women who can lead.
And I agree.
But while the world can always use more leaders, the deficit
isn’t just a numbers issue.
It’s also a character issue.
We don’t just need more leaders—we need better leaders.
We need leaders who have a healthy perspective on what it
means to lead. We need leaders who leverage their influence for a greater good.
We need leaders who don’t burn through people, resources, and vision.
Why does this matter? Why do we need better leaders?
Because better leaders change lives.
Now, this isn’t some slogan, or motivational claptrap. I
believe this with all my heart because I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve seen my
friend Gabby bring transformation to her home country of Paraguay. I’ve seen my
friend Chris Hodges build an incredible ministry in Alabama. I’ve seen Rick
Hendrick serve people in Charlotte, Collin Sewell help people in Texas, and Ed
Bastian improve lives all over the globe.
Leaders know that their role is about more than
self-gratification. It’s about making a difference in the world. As people
pay more attention to the way leaders negatively impact the lives of people,
it’s a good idea to stop and think about the way leaders can make a positive
Here are five ways leaders change lives for the better:
- In a time of dehumanization, leaders value
people—leaders have an affinity and appreciation for the people they lead.
They see people as having worth that isn’t tied to output or production;
leaders understand the intrinsic value each human being has and add value to
people based on that understanding. Intentionally adding value to people makes people
- In a time of discouragement, leaders encourage
people—discouragement has become a native tongue for many, especially
online. We live in a world that encourages people to diminish and dismiss any
train of thought that stands apart from their own. Leaders encourage people to
something different—something positive. Leaders speak life to their people,
pointing out and affirming the good in each person, which makes people confident
in themselves and their ability to make a difference.
- In a time of apathy, leaders equip people—it
would be wonderful if encouragement alone were all people needed to make a
difference, but it’s not enough. They also need to be equipped to make a difference.
Leaders take the time to train, coach and mentor people to help bring out the talents
and strengths of everyone.
- In a time of cynicism, leaders inspire people—one
of the most challenging things for a leader to do is balance reality with
vision. Reality says, “This is where we’re at,” while vision says, “This is
where we’re going to be.” Leaders who embrace a positive mindset find a way to
cast vision for what’s possible while acknowledging what’s true. It’s an
abundance perspective that makes people hopeful.
- In a time of powerlessness, leaders empower
people—of all the ways that leaders change lives for the better, nothing
matches the gift of empowerment. Leaders take their power, combine it with
their belief in the best of others, and give both away freely. When people have
both the faith and authority to make a difference, they have the energy
necessary to act with boldness.
If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely because you can
envision yourself as a leader. You want to make a difference in the world. You
want to change lives for the better.
Let me assure you, we need you.
Develop yourself as a leader. Develop
the leader within you. The world needs your unique contribution to the
problems we all face. You can change lives for the better.
You just start with your own.