Yesterday evening, my family and I took a walk around the neighborhood that eventually ended with us walking the Kewash Trail for a bit. It was a wonderful walk with good weather, good family time, and good physical activity. But what made this walk even more wonderful was the fact that my wife and I allowed our daughter, Ann-Marie (age 4), to be the leader during this walk. That’s right, we essentially played “follow the leader”, and, let me tell ya, being led by a 4-year-old was fun, humorous, and (dare I say it) insightful. Here’s some quick (non-deep, but essential) lessons on leadership I was reminded of as my daughter led the way…
- A Leader Must Be Visible – Ann-Marie was all too eager to lead the family on our nature walk last night. In fact, she was so excited about being the leader that she soon forgot to be the leader, and instead started to walk beside us (then behind us), talking about how wonderful it was to be a leader. We had to remind her several times that in order to lead, she must be visible. In other words, we told her that she needed to step out front and “be the leader”! Bottom line: Good leaders will be visible to their followers and everyone will know where their leader is and (to a degree) where their leader is going.
- A Leader Makes Decisions – You can only go in one direction at a time. This is a simple rule in life. Indeed, it’s impossible to go in two directions at the same time. Ann-Marie somewhat learned this lesson last night. There were many times in our walk that she had to choose whether to go left or right, north or south, or take this trail or that trail. Some of these decisions came easy to her…others came by with more difficulty, and even with fear that she was making the wrong decision. But good leaders make decisions even when it’s hard…even when it’s scary.
- A Leader Delights in Leading – There is nothing more disturbing than being led by someone who hates, loathes, or overly fears to lead. This type of leadership breeds mistrust, instability, and resentment. Ann-Marie, however, truly delighted in leading. She was energized at the thought of leading the family and her own energy and positivity transferred to the rest of the family. The walk was made more enjoyable by the simple fact that our leader delighted in leading the way. In fact, this would be a good time to pause and to analyze your own life. Are you a leader? Perhaps you lead at home, or at work, or at church, or in some aspect of your community. Do you delight in leading or has the energy and passion been zapped from you?
- A Leader Brings You Home – Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend all night walking. We had to come home. We all knew this, even Ann-Marie. So, Ann-Marie asked me, “Where is home?” So, I kindly advised her as to the direction of our home. She took my counsel, and with her still leading the way, she led us home. Perhaps this bullet point should be labeled differently: A Leader Asks for Wise Counsel OR A Leader Brings You Home By Means of Asking for Wise Counsel OR A Leader Brings You to the Appointed Destination. But here’s the bottom line: A leader always brings you to where you belong…in the case of our walk last night, with Ann-Marie leading the way, home is where we all belonged…and home is where she led us.
How about you? What are your thoughts on leadership? What makes a good leader? What makes a bad leader? I would love to hear your thoughts.