When I was about 18, my cousin Tommy bought a white Cadillac that was beautiful. It looked like something a limo driver would use and that gave us a devious idea.
One afternoon, we got “dressed to the hilt"—three piece suits, gold watches with chains, etc. Tommy put on a drivers' hat and I sat in the back seat. We drove slowly around town near my Grandmother’s home and eventually pulled up in front of a small diner. Tommy got out, looked carefully in all directions, and then walked into the place obviously “casing the joint.” He stared seriously at everyone in the room and then walked back to the limo and opened my door. I got out, looked around as well, and then followed him into the restaurant.
Once we got inside, I did the same thing Tommy did. I slowly looked over every person seated there and then looked around the room as if checking for cameras, etc. People began to whisper to one another and nod as if recognizing me as some famous actor, etc. After several minutes, I looked at Tommy, shook my head, “NO,” and we walked back to the limo. He held my door, I got in, and we sped away. By this time, people had gathered by the windows to get another look at us and we barely held back our laughter till we were a few hundred yards down the block.
What small town hicks do for fun….:)
Unfortunately, a lot of leaders do what Tommy and I did that afternoon--they pretend. They dress like leaders, act like they think a leader should, they have the title and the corner office. Still, they lack the one key to TRUE leadership.
They lack heart.
According to John Maxwell, leadership is influence. I agree with this, but in my book, "Communicate to Lead," I've fleshed-this-out a bit. Let me quote from chapter one:
This is not to cheapen or render meaningless the idea of positional authority, nor does it take away the challenge of influencing large groups of people in any setting. Rather, (John's definition) just shows that we can learn to increase our influence (leadership) no matter what natural abilities we’re born with.
For the purposes of this book, I’d like to add to John’s definition. I’d like to suggest that true leadership IS influence, but that it’s influence which produces noticeable or measurable change in those being led. I agree with the purpose John suggests because this should be positive change, thus adding value, but it has to be a real change. Otherwise, influence could be temporal or even imagined and thus of no real leadership value.
In order to help people make measurable positive change, you must care. Your work and focus must be on them! There's nothing wrong with titles or the trappings of leadership per se. Still, to be truly effective, you and I MUST care about the ultimate success of those we're leading. I believe that's what we must pray for and "check ourselves" for daily.
To that end,