Brene Brown writes “I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes”.
I love this definition of leadership. Too often, particularly in the Church, we think of “leaders” as those at the front, or the glamorous people synonymous with the cool crew, but while both these characters are undoubtably “leaders” to define leadership by them is to limit its definition.
Leaders hold themselves accountable. Leaders need to be self aware. They need to be secure in who they are. They need to recognize their failures and be realistic about their successes. Brown describes this as the need to be vulnerable. Jesus knew who He was, and out of the knowledge and security in his identity He was able to serve and lay His life down; to be vulnerable:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-5) Emphases mine.
Jesus knew where He had come from and where He was going, and because of this he became the least of all servants, scrubbing his disciples’ dirty feet. This challenges me, firstly am I sure of where I come from and where I am going? And second, am I willing to look like the least in the eyes of the world, knowing that God’s Kingdom is what really matters?
Leaders ‘find potential in people and processes’. For me I guess life is more about people, for others its processes. It goes without saying that leaders need followers, but while to some leadership may involve gaining followers by using power, in Brown’s definition it is about ‘finding potential’ and holding yourself accountable to bringing that potential to fruition. And this sounds familiar: leadership is about holding yourself responsible for finding and bringing out the Diamonds in the Mud…