So we asked the question: what is leadership really?
Think about two powerful, yet paradoxical historical persons: Mother Theresa, humble nurse to the dying and destitute of Calcutta, and Adolf Hitler, tyrannical dictator, master of the blitzkrieg and angel of death to the Jewish people. What do they have in common? At first blush it would seem that they have nothing in common right? But let’s look a little closer: Both of them, whether intentionally or not, influenced their followers, cast a vision for change and got the attention of the entire globe. In the classic sense both led their followers; one did so for evil and one for good. Upon their death the world celebrated one and villified the other. The essence of how they created influence helps answer the important question we have been asking.
When a leader (whether titled or not) casts a vision, or promotes and idea there are two key elements that create followership. The first is whether or not the leader is credible, the second is whether or not the follower can own a little piece of the vision for themselves.
Credibility has to come from somewhere, and there are many sources a leader might use to establish it: perhaps it is positional or what is called institutional authority, they may be an expert in a certain area, it be established by appealing to a higher power, maybe they have enough charsima to overcome doubts about expertise . What is fascinating is that having an official position doesn’t gaurantee credibility, it simply provides a platform to establish or lose credibility. The downside, of course, is that credibility is always judged by the potential follower, and must be demonstrated by the leader.
So when you walk in on day one as the pastor of a new church or start a new organization how will you establish credibility? Perhaps you are a great communicator. Can your ability, your connection with truth show that your vision is the right one, for the right time? Will your followership embrace the ideas you propose, and believe in what you believe in? Will they believe that you can take them to a new level, and that they experience a better place?
So let’s ask a new question. How do I become credible? The answer is a little surprising. See you next blog.