According to society, we’re not supposed to have biases. By definition, however, not all biases are bad. Webster defines bias as an inclination of temperament or outlook. I have an admission to make: I have a bias. But it’s not a bias in a negative sense. I have a leadership bias. I look at all things through leadership lenses. I have devoted my life to, among other things, to not just being an effective leader, but to creating other leaders. I have a manner of thinking that having followers alone does not make you an effective leader. A leader is working at their pinnacle when they are reproducing other leaders. That’s what I do professionally; I reproduce other leaders.
To that end, let’s take a look at some of the advice The Bible has on how to be an effective leader.
First, Proverbs has some excellent advice on leadership. In Proverbs 31:2-9, King Lemuel said:
“Don’t dilute your strength on fortune-hunting women, promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders. Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer, Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt. Use wine and beer only as sedatives, to kill the pain and dull the ache Of the terminally ill, for whom life is a living death. Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the misfits. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!”
Let’s break this down to each part and look at some modern-day examples so that we know the wisdom of Proverbs applies to today’s leaders.
First, don’t dilute your strength on promiscuous women. Perhaps the best-known example of this at the world-leader level was the relationship between President Bill Clinton and White House Intern Monica Lewinsky. President Clinton failed to follow this advice, and lied to the American People on TV about it. He later accepted responsibility for his actions, and his reputation as a leader suffered for the remainder of his presidency.
Second is not making a fool of yourself by gulping wine and swilling beer to the point of being hungover. It’s important to understand that everyone is always watching the leader. If you get drunk at social events, company events, or anywhere else where your followers will be with you, they will take note. Outwardly, they will tolerate, and even laugh along with, you and your behavior. Inwardly, they will see you as a person that cannot control their impulses and cannot comport themselves in public. Not exactly the reputation you’d want with your followers.
Third, speak up for the people that have no voice. Great leaders are servant leaders. They put their followers first and themselves last. They go to bat to do what is right for their followers, even if it is not what is best for themselves. That’s what selflessness is about; putting others first. This is a Christian value, but it’s also an important leadership value. The book of Matthew also affirms this principle in Matthew 20:25-28: “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served.”
Finally, speak out for justice. Many leaders know what is right and what is wrong in their organizations. Where it becomes a challenge for them is when they have to stand up to a superior to defend what they know is right. Leaders have to be good followers themselves, and it may seem contrary to good followership to take a different view of a situation than their leader. Great leaders owe it to their followers to stand up for what they know is right, even if it is to their detriment. The reality is that the moment of disagreement will be fleeting, but the courage to defend what is just will be recognized by followers for the long haul.
The book of 1 Timothy offers us some more great leadership advice from a theological perspective. In 1 Timothy 3:2-5, Timothy wrote:
“A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect.”
These verses touch on some very important points for effective leadership. Although you don’t have to be married to be a leader, if you are married, faithfulness is a must, both as a Christian and a leader. A cool head always prevails. There is an adage from the Verbal Judo (The Gentle Way) book that says that control belongs to the calmest person in the room. Cool heads always prevail. Hospitality and gentleness aren’t usually associated with the “power leader”, that Machiavellian person that is both feared and respected. Instead, hospitable, gentle leaders are the ones that gain the trust and respect of their followers. Finally, having things at home in good order is essential to having things in good order where you lead in the outside world. Nobody can lead other effectively if they are constantly worried about what’s going on at home instead of focusing on the tasks and people at-hand. Work on keeping peace at home, then focus on keeping peace at work.
There are many verses in The Bible that offer great leadership advice. These are a great start to building on your leadership skills. Not only does the secular world need great leaders, so does Christianity. While not everyone has a leadership title, everyone is a leader somewhere: at home, at the job, at church, or even leading themselves. Apply these principles, and watch your leadership grow to new heights.
May God bless you, now and always.