In an age where people desire and crave authenticity, genuineness and vulnerability you can no longer lead primarily from a position of knowledge and skill.

Who you are and who you’re becoming carries the most weight with those you’re privileged to lead. Sadly, it’s taken me way too long to understand and apply this to the way I lead.

What you know—The Head

In bygone years what you knew and what others did not know often placed you in a position of leadership and authority which people respected and followed because they didn’t know what you knew. Maybe you had years of experience and advanced educational credentials which you assumed made you a great leader who could easily encourage people to follow your leadership.

I don’t believe that’s the case anymore.

With the internet helping us know just about anything we wish to know, the knowledgable leader is not that unique and special today. Not only that, but the leader who views him/herself as smarter or more knowledgeable than anyone else on the team is viewed as arrogant and not inclined to be followed. People might follow because they are getting paid to do so, but you won’t have the respect which is essential to leading well.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that being knowledgeable about your vocation is not important, I’m saying it’s not enough to be a good leader. What’s the old saying?: “People don’t care about how much you know, they want to know about how much you care!”

What you can do—The Hands

The second basket that’s tempting to put all your eggs in is what you can do: the skill sets you’ve acquired over the years. You think you’re almost indispensable because you can do things which no one else can do. Think again!

A good leader today is rated not on what he/she can do but on how they’re able to teach those skills to others, not hoarding them so as to remain “Indispensable.”

A few months ago I ran across this verse, “And the Lord has given both him and Oholiab, sons of Ahismach of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others.”

~Exodus 35:34 NLT

I thought—It’s much easier to pass along what I know to others than to teach/train others in the skills I have. Sad to say lots of leaders intentionally don’t do this so as to protect their jobs and perceived levels of authority.

Who you are—The Heart

Of the three, this is the one which will enable me and you to grow in becoming an outstanding leader. It’s the relational side of leadership. “Leadership from the heart”—the name of my website.

Are you the real deal? Can you be trusted? Are you a person of character? Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Are you all about YOU or about the PEOPLE you lead? You may think you’re the smartest and the most talented in the room, but  even if true, these two alone won’t cut it today. Do you, do I genuinely care about the people we lead? Are we willing to share our fears, our weaknesses? Are we interested in the whole person, not just what they are able to produce?

We tend to hire leaders based on what they know and what they can do, but often wind up letting them go based on what they’ve become. It’s another example of competence outpacing character. More leaders lose out based on character than competency.

“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding  our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.”

~ 2 Corinthians 6 :6 NLT.

I note that it doesn’t say we prove ourselves by our knowledge and skills, but by the inward issues of the heart—fruit of the spirit kinds of characteristics—Galatians 5:22,23.

Conclusion—By all means, let’s grow and develop in knowledge and skill, but let’s not overlook or neglect the most important aspect of leadership: who you are and who you are becoming! This is what many, if not most, followers, want to see in their leaders.