Here are two quick stories which both illustrate great leadership…
1) During WW2, a new British general appeared on the scene who was unconventional in comparison to his predecessors. General Montgomery was largely disliked by the establishment – but deeply loved by his troops. The reason for both reactions was largely the same. Instead of being a theorist on the back lines, he insisted on leading from the front lines. Monty (as he was affectionately known) would travel from trench to trench and spend time chatting to his men, asking them questions about their wellbeing, enquiring how their families were and encouraging them in battle. It is said that Monty’s front line leadership boosted the morale of the British army and was a significant factor in their victory.
Great leadership is not about sending troops into battle. It’s about leading the way with courage and bravery.
2) When I first started out in ministry at the age of 21, a man called Paul Weaver (then leader of the Assemblies of God) was a great encouragement to me. One day, he asked me for my preaching schedule and promised that he’d come and support me. I was amazed that a man like this with such a significant ministry would even contemplate such a thing let alone do it. The very sentiment was a boost to me! But true to his word, I happened to be speaking at a little church in a rough housing estate one night – and without any advance notice, in came Paul Weaver. He’d travelled quite a distance just to be there and when he arrived, he sat on the third row – but acted like was on the front row, encouraging me, cheering me on & willing me to do well. I can’t begin to explain what that did for my confidence as a young guy just launching out in ministry.
This man’s front line encouragement meant more to me than all the leadership training sessions in the world. He got out there and championed one of his own.
Far too many people in this world want power and position without the pressure of responsibility. But great leadership is about getting out there, loving people, serving on the front lines, championing others, feeling their pain, embracing discomfort, taking some risks and selflessly willing people to succeed. THIS is great leadership.