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John Maxwell must have had me in mind when he wrote today’s piece for January 10 in “The Maxwell Daily Reader“. Taken from his leadership masterpiece (“The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“), he shares that anyone can be at the rudder of a ship, but not everyone can navigate the course. In other words. . . someone has to be “in charge” of where, when and how the ship will get to its destination! He calls this person the “navigator” and assigns the role to a “leader“.

Those of us who’ve been in a leadership position know that it takes considerable courage to walk out on the stage; pick up the baton & take total responsibility for a group of talented folks who may or may not want to be led. No successful orchestra - made up of many soloists - can “go it on their own” and make beautiful harmonious music that others want to listen to.

The same is true - on a much grander scale - when commandeering a huge seaworthy vessel. While there are many ‘mini-leaders’ aboard - only one can ultimately be in charge. The person where the “buck stops here!” The person who has set the course, mapped out the itinerary and worked out those who will take both major and minor roles in getting the ship to shore.

Here’s what Maxwell says about those who “chart the course“:

1. True leaders tend to look into the future without a backward glance. He suggests the value of stopping long enough to “reflect” and learn from past experiences. Past experiences are equally important in putting together a “future itinerary” for any organization as the vision/mission for the future.

2. Leaders take stock of the “conditions” before making significant decisions. We know the value of “counting the cost” as Scripture tells us because leaders must plan for what is known as well as what might be the case should the ship need to navigate “rough waters“. And it’s not just practical matters such as finances, talent and resources. Things such as timing, momentum, morale and societal changes must be to taken into account as well. Leaders not only must be wise discerners of the past. . . but a wee bit a prognosticator as well!

3. Leaders are attuned to what others have to say. True leaders gather info from many sources that have bits and pieces of the wisdom needed to make certain he or she charts the best course to get from point A to point B. If I lay out an itinerary without knowing that a series of undersea currents must be avoided; I put myself and those being ‘led’ in real danger. Would be best to consult the scientific folks who have expertise in matters about which I am somewhat illiterate before committing to a specific route to reach the destination.

4. Finally, leaders must go with both “fact” and “faith” as their tools! Leaders must, for the most part, be people of positive vision. Leaders must believe - on faith - that he or she can take the folks “all the way“. The other side of that trajectory is the ability to see things realistically and rationally. If not, then the one leading will most certainly be “blindsided” by something - or someone!

I’m certainly not one to add an ‘iota’ to Maxwell’s sage understanding of leadership; but I think that strong leaders know intuitively when to hand all or portions of a vision, mission or organization over to others. Others who have proven a number of things. Among them “loyalty” to both the vision and the leadership - assuming leadership has more credibility than lack thereof. Once loyalty has been determined, then most certainly those who come to share in both the responsibility and the ‘fruit of the labors’ must have the commensurate skills, abilities, native talents and an openness to learn - about self and others - to be chosen for such an important role.

In closing, I believe that leaders must know appropriate ‘timing‘. The time to hand all or some of it over. The time to say “yes, defintely” or “no, not in this case“. Personally, I have little quarter for folks who come along for the ‘ride’ and before you know it think they have what it takes to ‘navigate the ship’ and decide to practice “mutiny on the bounty“! Nothing great or successful has ever come from that kind of disrespect or lack of loyalty.

And perhaps that’s the toughest role of a leader! Tough because it requires leadership to stand his or her ground. Tough because it may require the leader to “put the folks off” at the next dock.

One of the best metaphors for what Maxwell (and Linda) are saying with this is the film “Hunt For Red October” starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. Fortunately most of us in leadership roles don’t have to take the extreme risks portrayed in the film.

It only feels that way!

Contemplate yourself a leader; chart your course; take all into account; appoint those who are loyal to you & your vision; get the facts as best you can and then shore up your ‘faith‘.

Then steady as you go. . . . .

Have an awesome Saturday with much love & support,

Linda, a fellow journeyer


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