Young (Future) Leaders: How To Wait Well
As you read this article, know that I am not writing this as a leadership expert. This article is more of the pot calling the kettle black. This article comes out of my own pursuit on how to wait well, or even determine whether or not I am called to lead in a high capacity.
1. Ask questions
What you don’t know will be what holds you back in leadership. Pursuing answers to the things that are unknown to you builds the habit of never becoming complacent. As you wait for the opportunity to lead, create a habit of curiosity.
In his blog article, 5 Signs You’ve Stopped Growing As a Leader, Carey Nieuwhof says: “The excellence of your leadership is shaped less by the answers you give and more by the questions you ask.” Carey goes on to correlate curiosity with the ability to “save” leaders from stagnation.
2. Follow well
Practice makes perfect. As you wait on your opportunity to lead, everything you do is practice for the future. Every task, job, conversation, and project is practice for when it’s your turn to lead. Bad practice results in poor performance, just ask any professional athlete. Practicing excellence as a follower lays the foundation for a healthy role in leadership.
People always say “Be the leader that people want to follow,” but let’s turn that around. Are you being the follower that people want to lead? Are you enabling your leaders to do more by following through with excellence?
This mindset goes against so much of what we are taught: pursue the next rung, always have your eye on the top, etc. If all you are focused on is what’s next, you will miss the opportunities to develop right now.
3. Pursue accountability
The relationships you build in the waiting period can make or break your ability to lead in multiple ways. The first of these is understanding that the top is lonely. There is an old adage that says the day you become a boss is the last day you hear the truth. As a leader, you need to have people around you who can speak truth in love to you, and the only way that can happen is if there is trust. Those types of relationships must be forged before you step into a leadership role.
No matter where you are in your career, you should always have people pushing you to be better. People that help you avoid complacency and burnout.
Start building those foundational relationships now and carry them with you throughout your leadership journey.
4. Do your heart work
If you only read one part of this article, read this: Your pursuit of Christ is the most important part of preparing for leadership. You can read all the books and blogs about becoming a great leader you want, but ultimately those are meaningless unless you understand that Christ must be at the center of all leadership.
The habits you make in pursuing Christ daily now will directly correlate with how well you are able to lead in the future. Being a perfect follower of Christ is not a qualification for being a leader but being a consistent follower is.
Where in your life can you begin to build your future leadership potential?