By Jenni Catron
Ever wonder what the real cap on your leadership is?
You intend to be a great leader, but how do you know whether your leadership is really all it could be?
Let’s start here: your actions speak louder than your intentions.Your actions speak louder than your intentions. @JenniCatron Click To Tweet
As a leader, you will be evaluated on what you do, not what you intend. But unfortunately for many leaders, our actions don’t always match our intentions.
Recently I was reviewing a staff culture survey with a church client. One of the items that received the lowest score from their team was in response to this statement: “work-life balance is modeled well by our top leaders.”
Ouch! The majority of their team didn’t respond positively to the idea that their top leaders model work-life balance. It’s a classic case of, “do as I say, not as I do”.
This leader’s poor example was sabotaging his influence and his team culture.
A number of years ago, I found myself in a similar scenario…
“It’s just a busy season. I promise I’ll be home more when I finish this project.” I apologized to my husband as I raced out the door for an early-morning meeting that would be followed by a full day and a late-night event.
When I snuck into bed later that evening hoping I wouldn’t wake him, he sighed and quietly said, “It’s not just a season, Jen. It’s you. There’s always another project. There’s always more you need to do. It doesn’t matter what the job is or who your boss is; you always run yourself ragged. You have to make choices that will sustain you.”
As I’m sure you can imagine, I didn’t receive his comments well. And it wasn’t just that I was tired and irritable; it was because he was right. I knew it, but I didn’t want to admit it.
I wanted to believe I was the victim of my circumstances, but the truth was that I needed to make some wiser choices and create some healthy boundaries that would enable me to lead better for the long haul.
I was touting health and balance to my team but making excuses for why those same principles didn’t apply to me.
That discussion and many others like it have caused me to learn what I believe is one of the most important lessons in leadership: lead yourself well to lead others better.
It’s the grand “aha” of my leadership journey that has become something like beating my head against the proverbial wall.
Part of the responsibility of leadership is understanding our influence on others. Leaders set the tone and the pace for our teams. And that responsibility, if you’re grasping the weight of it, is the reason why your leadership journey must begin with leading yourself well.
In order to lead from a healthy place, we must have a healthy perspective and framework for leadership.
While I have a library full of resources that have contributed to my growth as a leader, I found a framework for leadership in one of the most fundamental elements of my faith – the Great Commandment.Lead yourself well to lead others better. @JenniCatron Click To Tweet
The Great Commandment and Leadership
In the gospel of Mark, chapter 12, Jesus was being challenged with controversial questions about taxes and the resurrection. The final question posed to him was, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus responded with a fundamental biblical truth known as the Shema or more commonly understood as the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. Then he proceeded to give those questioning him the second-greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
When Jesus asked us to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he was essentially saying that we should love God with all of ourselves—with everything in us.
When he says love your neighbor as yourself, again the implication is to love with all of who you are.
“Love God. Love others.” We get that. You probably have that phrase displayed somewhere in the lobby of your church. But what does it have to do with leadership?
I believe the Great Commandment gives us the very foundation of leadership.
Here’s the thing…
Leadership was never meant to be about us or for us as leaders.
Leadership is all about others.
drawing out the best of others.
leading others to a better future.
It’s not about power or privilege.
It is about honoring God with our gifts and our talents.
Leadership is about loving God and loving others.
It means leading with all of who I am for the benefit of God and others. Leadership requires all of me—my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength.Leadership was never meant to be about us or for us as leaders. Leadership is all about others. @JenniCatron Click To Tweet
The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to lead with all of who you are. These are the factors what, when absent, cap your leadership. And when present, unlock it.
If you want to be an extraordinary leader:
1. Lead from Your Heart
The heart of a leader is the truest part of who he or she is. Your heart is the center of your emotions, desires, and wishes. Your heart is what most connects you with others. “Love God. Love others” begins here in the heart. It’s the relational dimension of leadership.
When we lead from the heart, we see others as living, breathing humans with stories, emotions, families, strengths and weaknesses, and tragedies and joys. And when we see those we lead as human, we seek to relate with them through our God-given power to understand one another through emotional connection.
Practical Ways to Lead from Heart:
- Connect personally before you jump into business
- Know what your team members are passionate about outside of work
- Create opportunities for connection for your team such as outings and events
- Be intentional to know the development goals of your team and demonstrate an interest in helping them grow
- Consistently praise your team and give them feedback
2. Lead from Your Soul
The soul is the part of us that longs to know God. It’s the epicenter of morality, integrity, humility, and servanthood. Leading from the soul is about developing the character of Christ. Our greatest motivation as leaders should be our desire for those we lead to see God in us.
When we lead from the soul, we model what we value. Our intentions and our actions are aligned.
Practical Ways to Lead from Soul:
- Pray for your team members regularly
- Refrain from gossiping, complaining or criticizing others
- Pray for wisdom for yourself and those you lead
- Be a servant
- Attend to your spiritual growth and health
3. Lead from Your Mind
The mind is the seat of intellectual activity. It is what enables us to deliberate, to process, to reflect, to ponder, and to remember. The mind enables us to strategize and to make plans. It is where we find clarity and where God imparts wisdom. The mind could also be viewed as the managerial component of leadership. Management is the method by which great vision is executed.
When we lead from the mind, we take a leader’s instincts and inspiration and put them into action.
Practical Ways to Lead from Mind:
- Commit to regular growth by reading, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, etc
- Set goals and create follow-up plans to measure results
- Define the systems and strategies that will help your team accomplish your mission
- Devote time to learning from mentors or others who will stretch and challenge your thinking
- Continuously evaluate your priorities and your schedule to ensure you are attending to your most important objectives
4. Lead from Your Strength
As leaders, we provide strength for our teams when we understand the power of vision. Those you lead must know that you deeply believe in where you’re leading them and why. It involves being disciplined, developing perseverance and taking initiative.
When we lead from strength we keep hope and possibility in front of ourselves and those we lead.
Practical Ways to Lead from Strength:
- Be clear about the vision you feel called to
- Know your strengths and do your best to organize your work to play to these strengths
- Intentionally point out how each team member’s contribution impacts the vision of the organization
- Stay connected to your “why” so that your responsibilities are not just a job, but an opportunity to work from your passion
- Create opportunities to dream and envision what’s next
Which of these dimensions do you most naturally lead from? Does the relational side of leadership come more naturally but you struggle with the strategic? Or do you lead with a lot of vision but sometimes don’t slow down enough to connect with your team?
Each of us leads from one or two of these dimensions more naturally, but I believe our best leadership emerges when we learn to lead with all of who we are – heart, soul, mind and strength.
Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership.
Understanding who you are, cultivating your character, committing to lifelong learning and developing discipline provide the framework for fostering the leadership of self.
By tackling some of the challenges that tend to derail or distract us, we become better equipped to lead from our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
As I’ve focused on leading myself well I’ve become increasingly aware of the moments that lead to those late-night exasperated conversations with my husband.
I’m more in tune to when my emotions are impacting my actions or when my ambition is at odds with the character of Christ being formed in me.
I notice when my strategic planning and audacious dreaming cause me to become overextended and short-tempered.
And little by little I’m seeing glimpses of what it looks like to lead with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength.Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership. @JenniCatron Click To Tweet
Take this FREE Leadership Assessment to Learn More About How You Lead
Which dimension do you most naturally lead from? To learn more about how you lead, I invite you to take this free leadership assessment.
It is possible to lead from all of who you are – heart, soul, mind, and strength – and this assessment will give you the insight to lead yourself in developing these four dimensions.
The Fastest Path To A More Effective You in 2020 Is…
If you’re honest with yourself, how did your time management turn out in 2019? Looking back, would you say, “Man, I was so on top of stuff, I’ve got no issues heading into 2020?”
Or are you thinking, “I need to do better with time?”
Here’s one of the challenges with time management.
Nobody’s making any more time. Everybody gets 24 equal hours in a day.
The most productive person you know gets the same amount of time you do. So why are they more effective than you?
That’s why I developed The High Impact Leader course.
The High Impact Leader course teaches you the system that I’ve used to manage my time now for almost 15 years.
I couldn’t believe the difference this approach has made for me. Before I created the system, I was leading a fraction of what I’m leading today. I also worked more hours and I was busy exhausted. My old approach led me to into burn out.
On the way out of burnout, I realized I had to live differently.
So I started reprioritizing my time, managing my energy, figuring out how to stop getting my priorities hijacked by other people, and in the process (by accident), I became far more productive, so now I can write books, I lead a new company. I speak all over the world, host a podcast, and still actually have time for my family and for myself. I even get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
How do you do that? I’d love to show you how to do that, in the online, on-demand High Impact Leader Course.
I’ve helped over 3000 leaders free up hundreds of hours each year and often 3 hours a day to do what they feel they never have time for and get healthier in the process.
The course is designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favor.
Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day. That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.
Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?
Click here to learn more or get instant access.
Where is your cap?
Leave a comment below and let us know:
(excerpts of this article are from Jenni’s book The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength)