I’ve found there are nine questions every leader needs to take seriously if they are going to successfully steward the leadership with which they have been entrusted.

The following are questions which I’ve trialled with different audiences and modified along the way.

The greatest leaders point to something greater than themselves and encourage others to chase after it. How do you answer the following nine questions?

1. What does it mean for me as a leader to become a signpost?

Said another way, what is your leadership pointing others toward? It’s important that a leader points others to a greater cause and not to themselves and consequently, to their limitations. A leader needs to inspire those who follow to pursue and even grander vision than their own.

2. Who am I calling leadership out of?

Answering this question from day one enables a leader to avoid becoming completely self-absorbed. Every leader has the responsibility to name and coax the leadership potential out of others. When this starts to happen, so will healthy changes in one’s approach to leadership.

3. Why do I want to be remembered?

When a leader leads in order to be remembered, they are operating out of insecurity. Insecure leaders create insecurity in their followers. It’s more important we contribute well now, to what may be a wonderful legacy, but leave the appraisal of that to others.

4. What does leadership success look like for me?

Leadership success needs to be attached to our character, and not to what we need. Character is what you give to others, while your needs are what you take from others. Confusing the two leaves a leader with an ambition to become great, rather than focussing on being a great person of integrity right now.

5. Why do I do what I do?

Knowing your ‘why’ is extremely important when it comes to self-leadership. Leading yourself first is more important than leading others. A leader leads others based on how they have already led themselves. Knowing your ‘why’ is critical, and orientating that ‘why’ to something other than, and greater than, yourself is essential. Knowing your why can bring considerable freedom but not knowing your why can imprison you.

6. Why do people follow me?

This question is about platform. People don’t follow you because of you, they follow you because of the platform you stand on. This means leadership is not about being liked by more people so they follow you. Leadership is about a leader stewarding the platform they’ve been entrusted with to benefit others the most. Understanding why people are following will help you lead more responsibly.

7. Is impressing people more important to me than inspiring them?

To impress someone is to act in a way that says, ‘Look at me!’ To inspire someone is to act in a way that says ‘Look what you can do!’ What impresses us is what the platform gives a leader, but what inspires us is what the platform costs a leader. Impressing people places a leader’s importance above that of the platform and undermines their influence. Inspiring people places a leader’s importance below that of the platform and increases their influence. People need their leaders to inspire them to become better, not impress them.

8. How do I enable my fruit to grow on other people’s trees?

Bob Buford recently passed away after devoting his life to the development of other leaders. He was known for saying, ‘My fruit grows on other people’s trees.’ This is about how and what we impart to those we lead. Who are you enabling to step onto the platform you currently have?

9. Which of these questions requires my immediate attention?

This question is the one that compels us to focus and then intentionally act. What leapt out at you as you went through these questions? Whatever impacted you is the area that needs attention so that your followers can have the best possible leader.

If you desire to be a successful steward of your leadership gifts, enrol in our course Introduction to Christian Leadership.

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Ralph Mayhew

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