Leaders Have Two Jobs
We are in a time when it is far too easy to let things like headlines, opinions, and conflict judge how we lead and communicate. While cultural relevance and awareness are paramount to reaching and engaging people, there can be a temptation to fall into teams and organizations that only react to people’s current needs instead of creating a new way forward.
I was reminded of these truths by Louie Giglio, a well-known author, pastor, and speaker. He was being interviewed in early 2021, and, among other things, he described the need for leaders to own two primary jobs: to rise above and to create. His statement was both encouraging and challenging at the same time.
As a leader, your people need you to do more than react to what’s going on around you. They need you to do more than manage conflict, details, and opinions. They need you to do these two jobs:
Your First Job: To Rise Above
First, we need to rise above. How? By being aware of the urgent, yet not letting that be the only thing dictating our priorities. Rising above means leading with vision and— despite realities like a global pandemic or political tension—helping our people see that there is a way forward and we can be part of it. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have the opportunity to present the next step forward and invite people to join us.
Are you leading with a vision for the future or reacting and managing the issues of the present? Your people need you to rise above and see what could be. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell states it this way: “Leaders see more than others see and before others see.” A significant part of leadership is leading in the present that makes way for a better future.
Your Second Job: Create
When we see a way forward, we can create something new that helps us get there. Your job is not just to manage and organize people but to create new opportunities that fuel momentum, change, and growth. This leadership might mean a new system, starting a program, integrating new language, solving problems, or clarifying values.
We don’t just rise above and say there’s a way forward; we create the next step toward a better future. Is there something new you can lead in building? What do your people need that’s not yet completed? You can be part of creating what they might not even know they need.
Leaders: If we’re not rising above and creating, we are merely reacting, not leading.
Three Things You Can Do This Week
While I hope these thoughts have been encouraging and empowering, this all may seem a bit vague and theoretical. Here are three practices you can implement this week to help you rise above and create.
Limit Email - The majority of your inbox lists things other people want you to do. Most of the messages or promotions we get are tasks, conversations, and requests that often pull us away from our priorities. Set two times a day to engage in email and devote the rest of your time to creating, developing and accomplishing goals, and collaborating with others.
Get Alone - If you’re in an office, give yourself permission to close your door or decline meetings at specific times so you can get alone and do your most important work. If possible, take a day or two a month to get offsite to maximize focus and gain a fresh perspective.
Dream - Part of gaining fresh vision and creating meaningful things is regularly dreaming about the future. While this may come more naturally to some than others, all leaders need to look to the next quarter, six months, or even a year and dream. Dream, ask questions, and have conversations about the future.
Let’s reclaim these two crucial jobs we get to be part of to lead and serve people.