Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
A while ago I heard a phrase that stuck in my mind. ‘Christian leaders should have an aroma about them that attracts people to them as bees are attracted by honey.’
As I write this on Friday, June 8, 2018, the G7 conference of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies is gathering in Eastern Canada to talk. Because of the recent economic tariffs imposed and the attitudes of US President Donald Trump towards other G7 leaders – some are calling the meeting, the G6 +1. Regardless of your political views about President Trump, and without digressing to itemize all the effects of his leadership style on foreign relations within the G7 – it is safe to say the aroma of his leadership style is not attracting other world leaders to him!
So, what are the two main attributes of a leadership style that creates a sweet aroma and will draw people to your leadership, your business and yourself personally?
FIRST, a spirit of Servanthood. This is the key attribute that Jesus held out to his disciples in our text above. If you desire to have influence, if you desire to enhance your leadership, you must seek to serve, just as Jesus came to serve even to the extent of giving his life. How this works itself out and evidences itself in your business is very contextual.
The spirit of Jesus’ teaching here does not lend itself to 4 Steps or a formula to follow to become a Servanthood leader. Rather, it is a result that comes from allowing yourself to be transformed by Christ over time as you make decisions on a day to day basis. Some guiding questions to ask would be:
- “Am I working toward win-win relationships in business, rather than win-lose?”
- “Do my employees trust one another and trust that I want the best for them?
- “Do I have a way of expressing appreciation for my customers?”
SECOND, a set of Values. Recently, due to multiple ethical failures amongst the business leadership community, many business schools have been adding ethics classes to their curriculum. Although teaching a basic framework of ethics is always helpful, I do not believe it is the solution to the effects of greed, pride and all the temptations that exist when a leader is given authority over people and a mandate to produce a profit.
Rather, identifying and following an internally held set of ethical values is the best predictor of successful business leadership. I would suggest starting with the 10 Commandments and the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is the foundation for a set of biblically based values that can guide your leadership. Furthermore, I would argue that following a set of values requires regular consultation with a trusted community of peers. To answer questions of what vulnerability and humility looks like in a corporate setting on a day to day basis requires regular discussions with peers who struggle with the same questions. This is where having access to your Corpath Forum gives a competitive advantage in business. The issue of staying true to Christian values in the marketplace is not always an easy black and white choice, many times it involves choosing from various shades of gray so good counsel is crucial.
The community aspect of keeping and respecting a set of values that guide you and your business and the competitive advantage is well recorded in Patrick Lencioni’s recent bestseller, The Advantage.
FINALLY, in 1992 Billy Graham became the first American leader to penetrate North Korea’s secretive state and meet with the late President Kim Il Sung. Graham took a simple gift, a Bible. Interesting that Kim Il Sung invited Billy to go fishing with him. The aroma of his Christian leadership style of humility, kindness and as a peacemaker proceeded Billy and resulted in a historic invitation to meet with President Sung and established an important relational connection. As North Korea was in economic shambles after the collapse of the Soviet Union, facing famine and with a possible war with the south on the horizon – the meeting with Billy Graham was generally credited with calming the North Korean fears and helping to establish the foreign aid that North Korea desperately needed.
On June 12, 2018, Donald Trump will meet current North Korean President Kim Jong-un in the Philippines. He will be only the second American leader to meet with a North Korean President in decades. Trump also has a leadership ‘aroma’ which precedes him. It will be interesting to compare the results of his meeting and leadership style, with the results of Billy Graham’s meetings in the 1990’s.
- What is the ‘Aroma’ of your leadership style?
- Are you bringing the challenge of living out your values in the marketplace to your Forum for insight?
John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca