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The Primary Leadership Characteristic

Great leaders genuinely care for and love the people they lead more than they love leading itself. Leadership without love degenerates into self-serving manipulation. ~Rick Warren

I have had a leadership role since 1988 when I was promoted to Supervisor at my second company out of college. While I was in a leadership role, I don’t believe I was a leader of a people. I was a figure head who had responsibilities required to run my small department but my ability to lead people as defined by influencing them was nil. Why? I was interested in my career not in the people under my supervision.<

My ability to truly lead people began 5 years later. It started with young kids, 2 and 3 year olds, when I led in a Children's ministry at church. Jumped to 7 to 12 year olds when I coached soccer and, now, is focused on adults in my professional life. I have managed adults for most of my adult life but it's only within the last 10 to 15  years that I actually felt that I crossed the line from manager of to leader of adults.

The trigger for this ability to be a leader came with my becoming a Christian and the key ingredient was love. I had a soft heart for children so, God, in his infinite wisdom, started to grow my leadership abilities through the soul full eyes of toddlers. As I proved myself able to lead the youngest, He gradually increased the age of those I lead until I was able to make the leap to leading adults.

Looking back on the growth of my leadership, it is now self evident that the primary characteristic in leading people is love. A shepherd must love his flock if he is to become an effective leader. It was when I became a Christian that I developed this ability to love my fellow man. It was when I became a Christian and held this love for my fellow man in my heart that I was able to lead people effectively.

I have come to believe that a true leader must put the needs of others before his. That a true leader must view him/her self as a servant to those being lead. As identified by Robert Greenleaf, a true leader is a Servant Leader. I view myself as a Servant Leader. I am only able to lead in this way because I have a deep love for my fellow man. Without this love, I would be just another run of the mill manager doing whatever I could to advance my career.


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