Every job is better when performed by a character-based leader. I’m not talking about positional leadership. A character-based leader is someone who leads from who they are and not from their position, power or performance. Character-based leaders lead because it’s who they are. Many times they’re not in a leadership position, but they still lead.
Leadership “bestowed” on someone because they have a position or because the outperform their peers isn’t the same kind of leadership. Many leaders with positional or performance-based authority go through the motions. They simply do the job.
A character-based leader brings their own responsibility and energy to any role. They choose to excel and improve. With the humility of a learner, they strive to improve, to serve better and to see the team succeed. Their “who-they-are” influences. Some admire genuine humility and try to emulate. Others remember their best self, and strive to live according to their own higher goals. The leaders encourage one another to lift others up, elevate purpose, mobilize, enable. They’re genuine, transparent, real.
Sometimes, when we’re not in a leadership position, when we’re called to follow, we can become tempted to become passive and reactive. We start to make excuses, only do what we’re told, avoid responsibility, shift blame. Our best energy is no longer volunteered, but rather we only commit the energy to complete the assignment. We don’t have any energy to persevere, overcome obstacles, remove roadblocks, or work toward mutual understanding. We become a cog in a machine, a victim of our circumstances. We’re more dead weight than energy.
When a character-based leader chooses to follow, they bring energy and enthusiasm to the effort. Rather than feeling constrained to “do what they’re told,” a character-based leader invests their best effort freely knowing their work is their signature. The work says more about the worker than it says about the team or the goal. The energy of a character-based leader infects, influences, energizes others. They do their best because of who they are. Others who appreciate excellence and character choose to bring their own energy and enthusiasm, too.
Jesus calls us to follow him, not as a passive, reactive, blame-shifting follower, but as an active, energized, character-based leader. Not only do we work because of who we are, but we work knowing our life matters forever. We bring our best energy because of what Jesus did to restore our relationship with him. We follow him with passion and energy that encourages others to consider following Jesus too, because of what Jesus voluntarily did for us. We can gladly trust him because of who he is. And we can sacrifice of our resources, our careers, even our lives if called, but most often we only need to listen for his guidance and then do what he says.
As an aspiring character-based leader, I follow Jesus because of what he has done for me. He gave me a new life and an eternal purpose when I decided to trust and follow him. And he asks me to serve the people I know in a manner that challenges them to consider following him too.
Today, I will follow Jesus by honoring my commitments with passion and energy. I will avoid complaining about the outcomes. I will not whine, criticize, or gossip. And I will serve others who I interact with by praying for them and finding opportunities to help them move one notch closer to Jesus.
Deep down, you know you can’t always be in the lead. So what kind of follower are you?