Over the ages, there have been thousands, perhaps millions, of books written on the topic of leadership. I’ve read a few of them and I’ve listened to my share of speeches on the subject. I wonder, though, is it really that complicated? Are the basic principles of leadership so complex that they require such study and pontification? I am not inclined to believe so.

I wrote a letter to my children before I had surgery last year. Though it was not major surgery, I did consider the risks involved. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that they knew what I expected of them, and of myself, regardless of how long I might be around. Those expectations are as follows:

• Cling to the hope that Jesus (and only Jesus) gave you on the cross. This is most important at those moments when you are at your most hopeless points in life.

• Mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what you say you are going to do.

• Speak up when something is wrong. Even, especially, when no one else is saying anything.

• Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

• Make mistakes. Take responsibility. Learn from them. Move on.

• This deserves repeating – take responsibility. When you mess up, own it. Don’t make excuses and don’t blame anyone or anything else for your mistakes. Period.

• Always keep an eye out for the needs around you. They are everywhere, and if you don’t see them, then your eyes are closed.

• Work hard.   Push yourself.  Don’t quit.

• Forgive and seek forgiveness without exception. Do what is in your power to heal wounds and leave the rest up to God.

• Do what needs to be done. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, just do it.

• Face your fears. It’s o.k. to be scared, it’s not o.k. to let fear stop you from doing anything.

• Heed your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

• Right and wrong aren’t always black and white, but they are more so than what most of the world would have you believe. Put as much distance between yourself and wrong as possible.

Looking over this list retrospectively, I realize that these are the qualities of leaders. True leaders. And true leaders are much fewer in existence than the surfeit of authors who have written on the matter. It is most certainly hard to live out these precepts; but no, it’s really not that complicated to understand.


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