3 Marks of Successful “We” Leaders

When we review our ministries people often look at the organizational bottom line, but there is another kind of assessment we should give attention to: the leadership bottom line.

Great leaders ask, “How did I develop in my ability to lead others, lead my peers, and lead myself?” But what are the categories or areas of focus to evaluate? By looking at successful, strong leaders, we can gain some insights into what they care about, and it can inform our own evaluation.

One thing in particular seems to mark great leaders – how they view themselves in relationship to others in the organization. Are they there to serve others or to have others serve them?

Great leaders move from “I” to “We” in their leadership.

No one likes working with, or for, a narcissist. Unfortunately, many top leaders fit the bill. It may not be totally their fault, however. Others are looking to them to lead, to take ultimate responsibility for the organization or make the difficult decisions average leaders prefer to avoid. So we expect a lot from them and make them the center of attention.

Others started the venture, and in the early days, it WAS all about them – it had to be! From making sales to designing the support systems to hiring the first employees, these leaders did not have an organization…they WERE the organization.

But the question is, “As you mature in leadership, can you move from I to we?

Harvard’s Bill George says,

 “…if we believe that leadership is just about getting others to follow us and do our bidding as we climb the organization ladder, we risk being derailed.”

I have seen the inability of the senior leader(s) to move toward a “we” culture first hand, and it is devastating to the staff and customers alike.

To move to “we” instead of the proverbial “it all depends on me” requires three important shifts in your approach to leadership.

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Bill Donahue
Bill served at the Willow Creek Church & Association where he developed leadership strategies and training events for over 2500 volunteer leaders. In addition, Bill launched and led the Group Life initiative, creating tools and resources for leaders in 13,000 churches on six continents, representing over 95 denominations in over 30 countries.

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