I will admit I got a bit spoiled in the military with great leaders. These were men and women who get it. They treated the people under their command with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.
Unfortunately, in my post-military career endeavors (which have been many more than I will tell) I have only had one supervisor that I would call a “leader” (thank you Barb Bush). I have worked for superior managers and administrators, who in their field are outstanding, but in the line of leadership I have not seen much. This is not a personal attack, or a criticism of their professional abilities, just my observation and opinion of leadership.
The biggest differences I have seen is that the great leaders I encountered in the military compared to the effective managers in the civilian world is that the military leaders were people-focused whereas the civilians are task-focused; the military leaders were mission-oriented whereas the civilians are to-do-sheet-oriented; the military leaders had big-picture vision whereas the civilians are tunnel-vision.
Now understand, my statements are pretty generic and again is not meant as an attack on the character or professionalism of the people I have and do work for. It is really an attempt to get to the root difference of what makes a leader; a person of authority who treats their people with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.
After much study and contemplation, I found one commonality—the leaders I wanted to follow in the military were upfront and bold in their faith; they led in the model of Jesus!
The book of Mark outlines the traits of Jesus’ leadership style:
– He was not self-promoting (1:11) “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.”
– He proclaimed a vision with clarity, simplicity, and directness (1:15) “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.””
– He was a skillful team builder (1:17) When Jesus called the first four disciples, who were fishermen, to follow him he said, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” When Jesus began the process of calling his disciples to follow him, he started with men who had something in common.
– He built relationships (1:19) He brought together Matthew, a tax collector, and Simon the Zealot, a Jewish nationalist who despised the idea of paying taxes to Rome.
– He exercised control and authority as appropriate (1:23-25) “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” When the demon made this statement, Jesus said sternly, “Be quiet and come out of him!”
– He engaged problems first-hand (1:30-31) “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”
– He empowered people (1:40-45) “And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”
If you are a person in a position of authority treat your people with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity. If you are a person in a position with a boss teat them with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.