What is the core of leadership?

Honestly, this is a question that I haven’t considered very much before even though I regularly write on leadership principles. But I believe that how you answer that question will define what kind of leader you are.

I’ve been reading a new book lately by Nancy Ortberg called Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-linear Leadership. I’ll be doing a full review on this book later, and will even post an interview with the author as well. However, I was so stirred by how Ortberg answers this question in the second chapter of her book, that I had to share some thoughts on the topic right away.

Ortberg states that she believes that the core of leadership is “hope.”

At first I didn’t quite get the point. I sat in my reading chair thinking, “hmmm…   interesting perspective, but it’ll never fly in the real world.” But then as I read on, and got drawn in by her argument to this point, I started to get it. By the end of the chapter, I was like…  “duh… the core of leadership is hope!

In a nutshell, leaders have the task of giving people hope. Ortberg says, “Leadership is the hope that we can change the things that need to be changed and create what we cannot now imagine…   Hope dispels fears. Hope readies us for round two.” I could go on, but I’ll let you get the book to read more about what Ortberg says.

This got me thinking about what it means to me to be a leader. In the workplace, it means that I should build up and encourage others. Help them by holding up their arms and getting them through difficult and challenging times. In my ministry it means that I’m supporting others in discovering who they are in Christ and what God has made them to do. It also means that in the ministry we spend less time getting comfortable in our bible studies, and more time getting out to give others in our community hope as well.

It’s even challenged me to think about other things that I can do to spread hope.

I was recently talking to some friends from Zimbabwe. Just before they were set to return to their home country we talked about what’s needed most over there. In case you aren’t aware, the economy there is in shambles. Inflation is in the millions of percent, and unemployment is 90-95%. These are conditions that most of us would have a difficult time even imagining. My friend tells me that the people want to work, but the jobs just aren’t there. He also tells me that the biggest need is to help these people get started in some sort of ‘business’ that they could do on their own. Even something as simple as a sewing machine will help someone to create work in making clothing that they can sell locally.

(For more details on this, see also the microfinance work I did in Kenya and Uganda.)

It sounds to me like there’s an opportunity to create hope here. I’ll be talking to my friend more about how we can get some of the needed things to the people over there, and I plan to share this opportunity with you all. I think that it could be a great opportunity for all of us to be leaders who are realizing that the core of leadership is hope.

So get the book, consider joining me in spreading hope, but think about how you are creating hope in the world around you today.

For hope is the core of leadership…

See more from the management by God series!

[management by God] the core of leadership

by Dan King time to read: 3 min
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