Holiday Leadership Lessons

Friends,

Happy holidays.  Thanks to each of you who, as Time’s person of the year, celebrated your award (there wasn’t a check that came with it, was there?) by commenting on my blog.  I again invite you to join the blog conversation today, and I especially invite participation from those who celebrate something other than the birth of Jesus in this holiday season.  I for one would welcome your reflections on any leadership lessons you take from your religious (or non-religious) celebration of the season.  I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to learn from you.

For my part, raised on and profoundly grateful to Jesus, I offer three very simple leadership lessons.  To me, Jesus is the example, par excellence, when it comes to the effectiveness of a non-authorized leader.  The man had no title, position, pedigree, or wealth that caused others to listen to him or follow him.  Indeed, on this holiday, we remind ourselves that He wasn’t born at a Hilton, or even a Radisson, a Best Western, a Sleeps Inn, or a Motel by the Hour.  His “lowly birth” reminds every one of us – student, janitor, secretary, intern, clerk – that we can make a difference – no matter where we come from or what position we occupy.

Second, Jesus was fixed on values – primarily love – and this gave Him a unique combination of power and freedom.  He challenged the system.  He was a Jew, He studied Torah, He seemed to love scripture, the temple and the Law.  He respected the civil law, as well.  He never took up arms.  Yet His adherence to His values – and His mission – meant that he freely challenged the systems of religion and law, and gently but firmly challenged the authorities in both those worlds.  Many of us hold back in fear and timidity.  Jesus is a model for us of the courage that comes from convictions.  I hope you never silence yourself when your values appear to be imperiled or abused.

Finally, Jesus searched His own heart.  He spoke boldly.  But He also went off in the desert to get His own stuff straight.  He protected an adulteress from being stoned, declaring, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  And when His friend Peter drew a sword to defend him from arrest, He told him to put it away.  Great leaders speak, but they listen a lot.  They hold up values to touch our guilt and our hope and our faith, but they continually apply those values to themselves.  Jesus could challenge, because Jesus walked the walk! 

I hope this season reminds you that you are called to change the world, to speak your values, and walk the walk, and so to . . .

Lead with your best self,

Dan

 * If you are interested in reading more about Jesus as a leadership role model, pick up Laurie Beth Jones’ book, Jesus, CEO.  It’s an engaging read.