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The Power of the Leadership Narrative

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ryan Lochte, and Omran Daqneesh all have something in common from the past couple of weeks. They all had a measure of influence on us. They all began, sustained, or were caught in a leadership narrative.

We live in a narrative culture. We crave story. We are drawn to the heroic, moved by the tragic, tantalized by the scandalous, teased by the comical, irked by the ridiculous . . . and frustrated and angered by the fraudulent. The protagonist and the plot draw us in. The hero and the villain help us to choose and pull for one side or the other. It has been proven that the stories we long for most are those that redeem or reinvent.

Hillary Clinton can’t escape “Email Gate” nor the stench of The Clinton Foundation. This week it is Colin Powell’s fault that she maintained that pesky server. The Donald can’t shake why he won’t reveal his tax returns . . . or why he donated to The Clinton Foundation.  Ryan Lochte’s inconvenient truth will cost him a bundle in lost endorsements and reputation. And little  Omran Daqneesh  just wants safety and stability. He longs for a place to play free from the danger that other leader’s reign down. He too is a leader—because this week he carries influence. His survival and ubiquitous presence on the cover of every news outlet tells a story. His narrative is the most truthful. His is one we can trust. His picture of influence stirs us with compassion and makes us angry. We want better for him . . . and we want those responsible for his plight to pay. Some leader told a story that began a conflict that wreaked havoc on a little boy’s life.

Leaders always tell a story. They should. We need leaders to guide, provide, and protect. We need leaders to instill hope and confidence. These efforts begin with vision. They begin with a good story . . . one we can believe in. Hillary, Donald, and Ryan all failed that task this past week.

What influence do you have? What kind of story are you telling? You may think your actions don’t matter . . . that your words don’t carry weight. Your leadership role is too nebulous, too mundane, too small. This week, focus on telling us a story that has one or all of these three traits:

Redemption: To buy back. To free from captivity.

We long for justice.

We need leaders who can bring redemption . . . who can lead others into redemptive acts and restore a sense of dignity.

What needs redeeming in your sphere of influence this week?

Who can you bring a measure of freedom to through your leadership?

How will you communicate it to those around you?

Reinvention: To make new. To make over.

We long for beauty and purpose.

Do you ever wonder why “make-over” shows are so popular?

We want to see the ugly and mundane become beautiful.

We want to see the discarded become purposeful again.

What needs to be reinvented in your sphere of influence this week?

Who can you make better this week . . . as a person or at their job?

How will you communicate it to those who can join with you?

Hope: The confident expectation of something better.

We long for righteousness.

No more untruths or half-truths.

No more blaming “right wing conspiracies” or something being “rigged.”

Enough!

Who needs a healthy dose of hope around you this week?

Will you be the one to dispense it?

Ultimately we want noble . . . we want something greater than the mundane around us. We want truth. We long for beauty and righteousness. We want a better story.

Tell a better story of redemption, reinvention, and hope!

Tell a better story!

Followers deserve that.

The greatest story declares this: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us . . .

Create & Redeem: Two Purposes for Every Leader

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Uzi Yachin on Flickr

There are many themes when it comes to the biblical storyline. Two themes stand out in my estimation: creation and redemption.

Genesis 1:1 reads, In the beginning, God created . . . 

Revelation 10:6 states, (he) who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it . . . 

Exodus 6:6 reads, Say therefore to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

Hebrews 9:12 declares, he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible there is the  witness of creation and redemption.

God’s leaders are able to emulate God himself according to these themes. We stand as co-creators with God and we are able to act in redemptive ways when it comes to lost causes and people in need of deliverance.

Noah built an ark. This stands as both a creative act and ultimately a redemptive act. Noah’s creative leadership preserved a family on the face of the earth.

Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son. He did so at the command of God. Yet, this too was a creative act and a redemptive act. Abraham was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but God provided an alternative sacrifice that Isaac might become the child of promise.

David and his son Solomon built the temple. This too was both a creative act and a redemptive act. The temple served as the resting place for the very presence of God. The temple marked the people of Israel as God’s chosen people.

Nehemiah empowered many of his countrymen to construct a wall for the protection of Jerusalem. This was in concert with a rebuilt temple and a rebuilt people. A wall meant protection. A wall defined a city in the ancient Near East. This was a creative act and a redemptive act.

The Romans created the cross as a form of execution for known criminals. Unknowingly, it became a redemptive act as our Savior hung upon it for the sins of the world.

I think it is fair to say that all creative acts should have a redemptive purpose. That is the essence of servant leadership. Leaders should never create unto themselves. They should create in response to problems, deficiencies, injustices, and wrongs. Leaders are at their best when they are acting as problem solvers. The necessity of leadership implies the necessity for change. Leaders look out and discern what is broken and what requires correction. Then they create solutions–redemptive solutions that provide deliverance, that set people free.

Consider–what if every leader awoke tomorrow and pondered what needs fixing. What problem solved, if truly solved, would liberate people to take the next step towards being all that they were meant to be? What redemptive leadership step would allow more people to move towards their intended created purpose?

Try it on. Ask yourself,

How can my leadership actions towards creating redemptive solutions serve the world tomorrow?

How can I act with God as a co-creator to bring deliverance?

How can I right a wrong?

How can I bring greater flourishing?

How can I serve others in such a way that they move closer to their created purpose? 

This is leadership with purpose.

What will your leadership create and redeem?

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Nes Celeste on Flickr