Deep within the heart of every leader is a dream to make a better tomorrow. Whether it’s through a church, nonprofit, business or global cause, leaders aren’t content for the world to stay the same.
However, leaders are also keenly aware of the need to inspire people to follow. Noble dreams and solo leaders don’t mix well. Every dream requires Four Types of Team Members.
So how does a leader inspire people to follow?
The Old Testament book of Nehemiah provides great leadership lessons. From his life, we learn How to Capture a Vision. But Nehemiah also shows us how to turn that vision into reality by building a team.
From his life, we learn four important lessons on how to inspire people to follow.
1. Identify with the people’s needs.
It’s one thing to ask people to follow your dream, but it’s entirely different to have a dream that resonates with the hearts of people. Nehemiah understood this principle.
The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials or anyone else in the administration. But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire … .” (Nehemiah 2:16-17a)
Nehemiah’s first step to inspire people to follow was to connect with the people around the city’s biggest need.
Lesson: Identifying with people begins by identifying with their needs.
2. Inspire the people with a vision to meet the need.
At the heart of Nehemiah’s dream was the desire to meet the city’s greatest need.
Nehemiah 2:17b says, “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” To inspire the people, Nehemiah went straight to the heart of the issue. The real issue wasn’t the rebuilding of the wall, but rather the removal of disgrace. Nehemiah appealed to the people’s desire for honor and respect. Having their walls destroyed resulted in ridicule, so Nehemiah inspired the people with a vision for renewed dignity.
Lesson: Vision finds its power when it moves beyond a physical task and becomes an emotional catalyst.