I think we sometimes approach leadership like a child playing dress up. When we decide to be a leader, we may feel the need to put on a costume – whether princess, superhero, or policeman. This is leadership from the outside in.
A leadership style that requires adopting a certain persona, with unnatural dialogue or gimmicky management techniques, will not sustain us long term. It’s a forced approach that will crack under pressure and hardship.
Instead, healthy leadership overflows from the core of who we are and is built up from the inside out. That allows us to live with integrity, which by definition means, “the state of being whole and undivided”.
I am so saddened to hear when a leader or public figure has a moral failing, and it’s unfortunately common. For all their accomplishments, the scandal or tragic story will persist in people’s memory. The question that I am most curious about is: What was happening internally (and externally) that caused the shift and led them down that unfortunate path?
The catch is that if we operate in fear of failure and painstakingly attempt to control everything we do and say, maintaining a perfect costume and mask, we are forcing leadership from the outside in. We can become more consumed about what it looks like than the reality beneath the surface.
That is exhausting and unrealistic.
The alternative is leadership from the inside out. If we are aligning our thoughts, guarding our hearts, and processing our emotions in a healthy way, then our words and actions will flow from a healthy source.
A costume is something that we put on ourselves. A mantle, a calling, an anointing…these are all things that GOD puts on us.
We don’t have to strive, manipulate or control, we can simply have faith that if He has called us to be a leader, we can walk in shoes of peace knowing He will equip us for daily decisions and big challenges. We can trust Him with ourselves, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” as it says in Philippians 1:6.
Our best leadership development is, above all else, spending time with the Lord. Not more podcasts, blog articles or books with leadership techniques. It’s about knowing Him so we can know ourselves, get our internal world ordered, and be strengthened and guided in our calling.
How do we develop leadership from the inside out? Consider these questions:
- Who is God?
- What is my relationship with God like, do I regularly spend time with Him?
- How do I feel when I’m alone?
- What occupies my thoughts throughout the day?
- How are my upbringing, history, and past mistakes shaping my filter (how I view God, people around me, and my current situation)?
- Have I forgiven the people who have hurt me in the past? Have I forgiven myself? Am I holding onto unforgiveness towards God?
- Do I know what my priorities are?
- Do I know what I’m good at, what my strengths and giftings are?
- Do I know what my goals and dreams are?
- Do I know who I am? Apart from titles and labels, WHO AM I?
These are not questions with quick responses, answered in a single session. Consider these regularly, especially at times when you are busy, stressed or tired. Developing our leadership from the inside out is a lifelong work.
Finally, my beautiful friends, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23