In regards to leadership the prevailing thought has always been leaders are either chosen, thrust into leadership or in some cases choose, on their own, to become leaders. Whatever the case may be, intentional and effective leadership must begin with one important quality unfortunately it is a quality not all possess. In a world where mediocrity, not finishing well and quitting are embraced in a weird sort of way, the one quality that all great leaders begin with is a willingness to lead. Every leader must first be willing to lead.
The 2008 movie “Defiance,” is based on a true story. It is the story of Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe who escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and 1,000 Jewish refugees. On the run, they take the responsibility of looking after a large contingency of Jews from Poland and are later joined by over 1200 more refugees. These brothers lead these refugees out of danger and into the woods where they would all live for over two years. During their time in hiding, they started a hospital and school. It is believed that the people saved and touched by their leadership now number in the tens of thousands. What led these brothers to take on this responsibility to lead? In reality these brothers could have run run from the problem, looked out for their own interest and put their own survival over the needs of others. They were obviously moved by the need but their bravery began with a willingness to lead.
What does a willingness to lead look like to us today?
- A Willing Leader doesn’t run from problems, he or she sees problems as opportunities to move the mission forward and proactively assists the team in embracing these opportunities.
- A Willing Leader addresses issues in a straightforward manner and promotes an open exchange of ideas within the team. He or she sees collaboration as necessary and empowers others to work together toward the goal.
- A Willing Leader provides encouragement and demonstrates a willingness to help others succeed, while at times sacrificing their own success in the process.
- A Willing Leader is willing to take action and prod others on the team to take initiative as well. He or she provides innovative solutions that both challenge and empower others to lead in and through.
- A Willing Leader displays behavior that is energetic, optimistic, engaging, fun-loving, and confident. He or she is a thermostat not a thermometer, they set the environments and lead the culture not reflect it.
Leadership is the ability to influence toward transformational change. It may require a certain skill set or gifts depending on the situation but it is not possible unless there is a true willingness to sacrifice the comfortable, climb over the obstacles and lock arms with others. Be willing! We need you!