There are things that every leader needs in order to flourish and excel. No matter how many articles, books, blogs, or vlogs you view you will get a wide variety of what those things are. I have read, watched everything from John C. Maxwell to Stephen Covey to James Collins. And yes, throw in a little Simon Sinek. You can read a million books and get a million different concepts of the qualities that every leader must possess. Well, I am not going to regurgitate any of those, but I want to go more general.
I want to give you THE TEN CODES OF LEADERSHIP. If you can decipher these codes you will not only be a great leader, but you will build great leaders around you. Here we go.
CODE #1 - YOUR YOU IS BEFORE YOUR DO.
Many leaders make the fatal mistake of focusing on what they do, but the priority of every leader should be first who they are. If you don't know who you are, you will never fully enjoy what you do.
Your title is not who you are.
You position is not who you are.
So, who are you? I can't answer that for you, but every leader must identify who they are. It is critical to health in your business, ministry, and home.
CODE #2 - PURPOSE OVER PRIVILEGE
I recently led a staff meeting with our church team. I had just come back from a missions trip and told our staff, "Everyone in America is privileged compared to the people we served." I then asked, "Would you give up your privilege to fulfill your purpose?" Ouch, most of the looks I got where 'blank stares.' That's a tough question. You see, as leaders, sometimes we have to put our privilege, or popularity, or position to the side so we can accomplish our purpose.
CODE #3 - DEVELOP PEOPLE
These may seem to be trivial, but many leaders I know are unwilling to develop people. They want to hire the finished product. Not me. I like hiring people that I can develop, mold, and shape. Yes, it may take longer to get where I need them to be, but I ultimately enjoy seeing them grow. One of the great functions of a leader is to take people from where they are to where they can be.
Now, there is a difference between a product and a project. A product has potential. A project stalls everyone else's potential. Make sure you know the difference between the two.
CODE #4 - NEVER ASK ANYONE WHAT YOU ARE UNWILLING TO DO
I believe one of the things that has helped me become more attractive to others is my willingness to get in the trenches, to pick up trash, to move things around, and even get involved in things that are not necessarily the best use of my time. You see, a leader that wants their people to do the often overlooked must be willing to get a little dirty from time to time.
What's the last thing you did with your team that was beneath your position?
CODE #5 - FOCUS ON YOUR BUSINESS FIRST, BRAND SECOND.
This is one that many leaders screw up from the start. I have met a ton of leaders that have an incredible brand but their business is subpar. That is a fact. They've got 100k followers on social but 5 followers in person. The first priority of business is business. If you are a pastor work on your church first. Who cares if you become an influencer. If you are a CEO then do everything in your power to make your company excel. I think you get the point.
If you build a good business I promise your brand will develop. But do not mistake a good logo, popping social media videos, and followers for a good business. That develops over time.
CODE #6 - LEARN FROM ANYONE AND EVERYONE, OH YES, AND EVERYWHERE
I was sitting in a meeting several years ago in Washington, DC with a group of pastors. I had the smallest church at the time. I remember one pastor whose church had grown to 6,000 said, "I can't learn from anyone in a smaller church than mine." My first thought was, "What a _______." But I didn't say what I was thinking. I then responded, "Well, I guess you can't learn from me, so I am not sure why I am even here." That moment hurt, but pain can be a great teacher. Today, I choose to learn from everyone, anyone, and I can do it everywhere.
Ask questions. Have conversations. And don't just do that with the BIGS in your industry. Do that with everyone. Watch how quickly you learn.
CODE #7 - COMPETITION REVEALS CHARACTER
I love competition. It's true. Most leaders do. It drives them to be better and do better. You may have heard a leader say, "I am only in competition with myself." Tell that to a sports team. No, you are in competition with yourself and with others. Competition is not a dirty word. It reveals the character of your heart.
Healthy competition causes you to improve what you are doing because someone is doing it better. That's not a bad thing. That's a great thing. It's not what you do, but why you do it that competition reveals. Guard your heart when you are feeling competitive.
CODE #8 - SEEK APPROVAL OVER APPLAUSE
The reality is the applause is only dependent on what you do for people, but approval is experienced by what you do with people.
To many leaders seek the applause of the crowd at the expense of the approval of there team, and most importantly God. Approval is long term. Applause is short term.
Who do you seek the applause from?
If you can break where you need the applause you will find the place to receive approval.
Chose APPROVAL over APPLAUSE.
CODE #9 - YOU WILL NEVER MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY
You may need that repeated: "You will never make everyone happy." That is a fact, Jack. If you are leading things well that requires change. Anytime there is change people will be unhappy. But your goal is not people's happiness your goal is your organization progress (now, that does not mean you don't care about people, we must lift up those with us). But you are responsible for making the right decisions. Someone's happiness is not your responsibility.
The quicker a leader can recognize this reality the easier leaders becomes. You will never make everyone happy.
CODE #10 - EMOTION + EXPERIENCE
I led a staff meeting about this passage of scripture. In this passage we are reading about King David. Listen to this statement: "He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands" (Psalm 78:72). Notice the two things that King David led his people with: a true heart (emotion) and skillful hands (experience). As a leader, your emotions always need to be in check. Yes, we will blow it, but if we don't manage our emotions our emotions will manage us. But you also must lead with skill. How does one develop skill? Experience.
You need the right emotions in leaders, as well as, the experiences that continue to build your skills. This a critical piece. Most leaders, including myself, leverage their skills at the expense of the wrong emotions. But the greatest of leaders develop both.
Where do you need to grow? What code are you currently struggling with? God has more that He desires to do in your life and leadership, but you must first crack the code. And when you do watch how your leadership explodes.