Definition of a Leader
A leader is "a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal". A mnemonic for this definition would be 3P's - Person, People and Purpose as illustrated by the following diagram.
I have decided, to follow Jesus,
A requirement for leadership is personal vision - the ability to visualize your goal as an accomplished fact; a thing already achieved.
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet."How do you become a leader with a purpose? You need guidance (Prov 3:5-6) and you will get it through meditation on the Word of God.
The next requirement is the realization that the goal cannot be achieved alone, without the help of others. Is there a natural grouping of people from whom you can elicit help? Or do you have to recruit your followers? In the latter, you face a greater challenge. But whatever the situation, the leader must integrate his (or the organization's) goal with his followers’ personal goals and then communicates this goal in such a way that they embrace it too and the goal becomes a common goal.
Why are some individuals more effective than others at influencing people?
Effectiveness in leadership has been attributed to (1) persuasion skills, (2) leadership styles and (3) personal attributes of the leader. We will explore these further in another article or two. Now, we will consider one critical element of leadership (influence) - love for people.
When Moses encountered two Hebrews fighting with each other, he tried to act as a peacemaker but they turned on him and questioned his authority over them, "Who made you ruler and judge over us?" (Exo 2:13-14). Yet some 40 years later, the Hebrews came to Moses with all their disputes and problems that he was kept busy from morning till evening (Exo 18:13-16). What had changed? Among many things, Moses led the Hebrews across the Red Sea and when the people could not drink the bitter water, Moses cried out to the Lord for a solution (Exo 15:22-25). What had not changed was Moses' identification with the Hebrews and his love for them.
In God's call to Moses ...
7 The LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings ...The Lord voiced His concerns ... the hard labours of the Hebrews and their mistreatment by the Egyptians ... the very same reasons that prompted Moses 40 years earlier to come to the rescue of a Hebrew and kill an Egyptian (Exo 2:11-12).
Moses came up with several excuses why he should not be the one to go and God graciously refuted all of them. We are not told why Moses finally agreed but I believe that Moses' identification with and love for the Hebrews played a critical factor in his decision.
Moses' identification with and love for the people was again seen when God declared that He was going to destroy the Israelites but would make a great nation of Moses and his descendants - the Israelites were worshipping a golden calf which they had fashioned out of their gold earrings. Moses immediately interceded for the people (Exo 32:7-14).
Moses then descended the mountain with the two tablets. His love was not "soft" ...
After he died, the Israelites mourned Moses' death for 30 days. It is recorded in Deut 34 that
10 Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,When people are convinced of your love for them and that you always have their interests upon your heart, they trust you and they will follow you up the highest mountain and into the deepest sea.
Question for Discussion
We often hear of some leaders are task-oriented or goal-oriented and others are people-oriented. As a leader, if you have to choose between people or purpose, what will you choose? Of course, real-life leadership is not so clearly defined in terms either or and in reality, a compromise is possible. But for the sake of discussion, what will you choose? Why?