Man in the Mirror

The first person you need to be able to lead in marriage, home and the workplace is yourself. Leading yourself means putting practices into your life that will help you grow continually in your ability to set and achieve goals, develop important relationships and gather useful knowledge and experience. Of leadership, the Bible says,

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 1 Timothy 3:1-5

The Scriptures remind us that leadership is not so much about the actions of the leader as it is the character he possesses. The nature of the man, in his heart and mind, honed through disciplined practices, will be reflected in his leadership. Let me suggest several areas that will positively impact the leadership of the man in the mirror. 

Manage your time. The best leaders are excellent time managers. Set your schedule to include regular elements of leadership development. For starters, take time to listen to and pray to God. Set aside time to consider and make decisions instead of making them “on the fly”. Give time to continually develop your knowledge and skills, and even to celebrate and rest. Book hours regularly with a book—choose biographies and autobiographies of those who have done what you aspire to do. Consider figures like Jack Welch, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Pope John Paul II, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr. None were perfect but all possess characteristics and made key decisions you can learn from. 

Much of leadership is the ability to complete unpleasant tasks that are also necessary to your role. Those who never reach a level of leadership they desire can often trace their key weakness to time wasted. From “binge watching” videos on Netflex to thumbing through Facebook to the latest gaming apps, technology has become a vacuum that can consume your valuable time. Resist that urge by programming your minutes ahead of time. Organizing your daily clock is a top leadership skill that will pay real dividends in every area of your life.  

Invest in relationships. A leader surrounds himself with good people. In your workplace, you need competent individuals in their own roles, and people who will give you wise counsel. In your marriage, your time and attention to your wife, and your ability to work as a team, is so important to the success of your marriage and your shared life goals. And the time you spend with your children, pouring your heart and life into them, will give insight as you develop others around you through your own leadership experiences.

Determine in each daily connection if someone is pouring into you, if you are pouring into them, or both. Sever ties where the relation benefits neither party. Find a mentor, someone who you can lunch with occasionally and ask questions—and who will give you advice based on their wisdom and history. 

Embrace failure and feedback. Effective leaders embrace a lifestyle of learning, constantly looking to improve themselves by finding new information in their decisions, failures and successes. Be open to input from others, to being evaluated and accepting thoughts that you may not agree with. Don’t find yourself in meetings doing all of the talking. Instead, create opportunities to listen to those around you. Accept praise with humility and rebuke and criticism with grace. If your reports are so afraid of your response that they cannot be open and honest with you, then you’ll find your ability to grow as a leader within your circle of advisors is very limited. 

"Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life." —James Allen