“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
These days, as I look at leadership in various arenas of life, I see a common theme: Pressure.
For whatever reason, the Lord has allowed me to see leadership in many varying settings in my 27 years of life—from collegiate and NFL locker rooms, to church ministry, to public schools, to corporate America, to our small but growing business, Next Level Performance. What I find fascinating is that whether it be coaches, pastors, principals, athletic directors, vice presidents, or student-athletes, the pressures I see are common across all walks of leadership.
I see leaders feeling pressure to be three things:
1. Leaders are feeling the pressure to be LOUD
There is a common misconception that being a leader and being extroverted are synonymous. I see leaders of varying ages and roles departing from their natural, God-given personality to lead loudly, because society is telling them this is the right approach. Vocal leadership is not the only path to positively influencing others.
2. Leaders are feeling the pressure to be LIKED
Leaders naturally should have a healthy desire to keep their teams engaged. Leaders must care for people! But time and again I see that care for others is getting intertwined with “people need to like me”—and it has dangerous side effects, like allowing performance to slide and shirking accountability. The reality for a leader is this: Our actions as leaders are so loud, people can’t really hear what we’re saying anyway!
3. Leaders are feeling the pressure to be LAPSE-FREE
Let’s cut to the chase. We are all mistake-ridden, flawed people. No one is perfect. No leader is perfect. But in our social-media-driven world, leaders are feeling the heat to present a flawless front at all times. The reality is: Vulnerability and sharing failure earns a leader more credibility. Any time I share openly at a speaking engagement about being cut from an NFL roster or injuries I suffered as an athlete, I can tell you I am speaking to a more engaged audience.
Whether you are a leader of faith or not, I want to offer you hope today from the pressures to be loud, liked, and lapse-free. Ephesians 2:10 has provided me words of encouragement that have carried me through many difficult times as a leader. Specifically we read three powerful promises in this scripture verse:
1. As leaders, we are PLANNED “…we are God’s handiwork” is an amazing reminder that as leaders, we are not an accident! We are perfectly planned to be who we are naturally wired to be—our personalities, our communication styles, our passions—and we should lead from those unique gifts, rather than conforming to society’s definition of leadership.
2. As leaders, we are PURPOSED
We are “created” for a reason—“to do good works” that glorify Jesus Christ. There are good works that only you can do as a leader. There are good works that only I can do as a leader. You are made to lead specific people, in a specific place, for a specific purpose!
3. As leaders we are PREPARED
The good works we are created to do were “prepared in advance for us.” This is amazing to wrap your mind around! There are people, organizations, teams, cultures, and systems that you and only you are designed to impact and make better. All leaders should approach this opportunity with confidence. While all have continual learning and growing to do, we have the God-given tools inside us to lead well where we are called.
As you lead today, are you feeling pressure to be loud, liked, and lapse-free? Or are you doing what only you can do best—just as God planned, purposed, and prepared for you to do?
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” -“Mr.” Fred Rogers
IT’S YOUR TURN: Add your comments! What is the greatest pressure you personally are feeling as a leader? How do you deal with it as you lead?
From his earliest days, Tim Hiller’s story consisted of three things: A boy, a ball, and a dream. The boy with a ball began chasing his dream by dodging imaginary defenders in his parents’ backyard and cutting out pictures from Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. The pursuit of his dream continued through the ranks and record books of the Orrville High School and Western Michigan University football programs, where Tim re-wrote the standards in virtually every major passing category. And his dream culminated in the National Football League, where Tim spent time with four teams, primarily the Indianapolis Colts.