Leadership and the Human Heart

I am not an expert in leadership.  As a matter of fact, the longer I stay in a role that requires leadership, I become more aware of my lack of leadership experience.  Thus a tension is created isn't it?  The tension exists because two realities are pulling in opposite directions. The reality of "leadership experience" versus "leadership responsibility." I am wondering today how I get these two realities to pull in the same direction, so more power and effectiveness result.  As long as they pull in different directions, I succumb to the "paralysis of analysis."  My insecurity is heightened and I am shut down by anxiety and my own "lack of experience" awareness.  The other extreme, "leadership responsibility" exists in my youthful zeal.  With a fiery passion to lead, I jump the gun and find myself in leadership places where I do not belong. So how do we mobilize these two realities towards synergy and working together, not working against each other?


Develop Leaders.  Many books have been written on this subject.  We should read some of them.  So I would simply state that inviting leaders on to your team assumes that "you have their heart."  Or, at a bare minimum, there is a commitment to foster a relationship where hearts mesh and synergy happens.  I am guilty of looking at someone's charisma or gregarious nature and immediately assume that they are a leader.  Charisma and outgoing personalities are great, but they may not be effective leaders....ON YOUR TEAM!  Notice, I capitalized "ON YOUR TEAM."

To give someone a place of influence, to give someone a voice into your culture, to give someone opportunity to shape and craft an empowering environment is a significant responsibility.  I have mistakenly given it to the wrong people and create a bigger headache for myself.  It's sad to see on the leadership front bodies of disappointed and fatigued leaders who took themselves out of the leadership game by making wrong choices.

So...it felt important to ask myself, "How do I see and/or get close to the heart of people?"

I have 3 answers.

1.  Honest Dialouge: Proverbs 12:17, "A truthful witness gives honest testimony."  Yeah, I know...DUH!  When I speak of honest dialogue I speaking about brave, loving and redemptive communication.  You know, as I do, that people want to say things and often won't.  Their is a constraint enforcing it's stringent borders.  The heart is begging the mouth to speak up, but the mouth is influenced by the bitter herb of misunderstanding, accusation, insecurity, etc.  There are Big Honkin' Barriers to honest dialogue.  And listen, if you get to close to breaking through these barriers....they will HONK at you and scare you away.  These barriers want to keep you bound up and penned up.  I would call them....

  • Weakness - an unholy weakness that is not in touch with the strength of God, but one that promotes, isolation, fear, withdrawing and judgement.
  • Fear - False Evidence Appearing Real.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but instead He has given to us a spirit of POWER, LOVE & SOUND MIND.  Fear is faith, but you are simply believing and trusting the wrong thing.  Fear is meditating on the problem and it's power.
  • Insecurity - This results in people feeling powerless, controlled, small, insignificant, etc.  There is a better alternative.  It's called confidence and security.  I am not arguing for arrogance and cockiness, but I am cotending their is a confidence in God that belongs to you.  Jesus died to give your opportunity to live in communion with God.  There is no need to fear punishment or judgment.  Jesus took that for you.  All we fear now is the Lord, which is reverence, and the fruit of it is wisdom.

Strength, Courage and Confidence can be hallmarks of your leadership.  Can you imagine that?  Would not that be an amazing condition to live in?  It makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.

I would also add that it's important that you create places for your team members to ask questions.  Questions lead to a process, which is more important than the answer.  The process fosters a character than handle the weight of success and promotion.  If all people want are answers, then they do not want to lead, they simply want to rescue or fix.  Questions can reveal what needs to be changed.  Change creates healthy conflict.  Conflict, when handled redemptively leads to growth.  Healthy things change and changing things grow.

2.  Behavioral Expression of Values: Values are the thermostats of your environment.  They shape the human heart and how it behaves.  If you are going to get close to someone's heart then it would behoove you observe how they live, communicate and lead with the corporate values.  I recognize that I am a work in progress.  All of those who serve on my various teams are a work in progress.  So perfection is not the key to unlock the door of qualification.  Growth and maturity are keys to unlock the door where one enters the room that qualifies them to lead.  We all know that Jesus did not pick perfect people to build and lead his kingdom in the first century.  However, he picked people who were hungry and teachable.  So are the values of your environment being lived out?  Are they communicated clearly?  Are they role modeled?

3.  Proactive:I look for leaders who will recognize when change is needed.  I want leaders who will not react, but with discernment and forward thinking vision see so we can be proactive in our leadership.  Reactionary leading, as a style, is usually playing defense and trying to catch up to whatever expectations are being dictated by someone else or something else.  Who then is the leader?  Sometimes we get behind the 8-ball and need to react.  Reacting is not always negative, but as a style of leadership it is ineffective.  Reactionary leaders are always cleaning up messes.  They spend of large amount of their communication currency on defending.  They rarely have time to cast vision, and, at times, if they cast vision is not about where we are going, but about where we have been.  Whether you be a politician, a parent, work for a not-for-profit organization or sit behind a cubicle, people are looking for forward thinking vision.  That kind of vision and it's articulation exposes the heart of a leader.  We need people who are going to take the organization to new places of fulfillment and purpose.  While we must defend and maintain the culture we have, we are equally commissioned to advance the culture.  A proactive leader is influenced by hope, joy and possibilities.  A proactive leader is connected to God and encounters his limitlesness.  We are a pioneering people, looking for new territory and I submit that the greatest landscape to yet be explored is the frontier of the human heart.  Hearts are waiting to be impacted by the love of God.  The human heart is sleepy and longs to be awakened by vision, opportunity and the promise that something greater exists.  As we look into our teams, our leaders need to be proactive.  It reveals their heart, their passions, their values and their dreams.

I submit that the ingredients to discovering someone's heartare:

  1. Honest Dialgue
  2. Behavioral Expression of Values
  3. Proactive Leadership

I share this closing quote with you to summarize the beautiful sound of living in tension. "The strings of an instrument only produce sound when held taut in tension. A guitar requires constant tuning lest it be sharp or flat." Let is be so, that you and I have the wisdom and understanding to tune our leadership culture so it is not too sharp, nor is it too flat.

* quote by Randall Worley