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A TRUSTWORTHY SAYING

Paul sent his young friend Timothy a powerful and insightful statement on leadership. He begins the section reassuring Timothy of the importance and certainty of what he is about to say with the statement, “This is a trustworthy saying”.

I use this phrase as a title only – not to claim that my thoughts on leadership are the end-all of this important discussion. However, the more we align our perceptions of leadership (or any other topic) with the revelation of scripture, the closer we will all be to, “a trustworthy saying”.     - Dan

I’ve heard the question asked many times, “Are leaders born or made?”  Peter Drucker’s response was, “Leadership must be learned.” (The Leader of the Future, xi)  I’m not one to argue with Drucker, but I will argue with the question.


Obviously all leaders are born.  But the question assumes that there are two classes of people in the world – leaders and everyone else. An all or nothing proposition. I’d argue that leadership is an innate, God-given quality that resides in all people, but expressed in different ways, at different times, and in different situations. Leadership is found in ev...

We all have varying degrees of intelligence. Some are born with big buckets and others have a fairly small tea cup. Everyone has his or her unique capacity, but we are all challenged to make the most of what we have. There is not much we can do about our IQ; it seems to be set for life.  But we can work on our knowledge base and expand our awareness and understanding. We have to ask ourselves two questions: How big is my bucket? And how full is it?

Howard Hendricks once said, “Leaders are readers and readers are leaders.” I don’t know if it was original with him or not but it is true. Leaders s...

My definition of energy is less technical than the ones you might find in a physics textbook. For me, energy is the ability to get things done. My concept of energy is about two parts enthusiasm, two parts will power, one part know-how and one part stubbornness.  I was reprimanded once for talking about “creating” energy; from a physics perspective that may be a valid argument. But in leadership, creating energy is essential. OK, call it unleashing energy – I won’t quibble over the verbiage. he key concept is that leaders get things done – on their own and through others – and that’s what I wa...

Everyone is born with a leadership gene – but not everyone’s leadership gene carries the same degree of leadership potential.  Each of us has limits; God designed us with boundaries.  As much as we love the posters that tell us we can become whatever we can dream – the reality is that most of us will never throw a baseball 90 miles an hour, perform a cello solo at Carnegie Hall, or become the president of the United States.  Nobel aspirations don’t necessarily mean that we will succeed in all our endeavors.  But we can all improve in many areas and be better tomorrow than we are today.  With h...

God created each of us to lead, but we all find unique ways to express our personal leadership style. Intelligence, energy, emotional intelligence, and personality all shape our individualized approach to leadership.

Personality contributes significantly to how we lead as well as influencing the arenas in which we lead. People who tend to be more domineering engage that aspect of their personality to lead; those who are more collaborative lead using a more sensitive, relational style. Extroverts employ an outgoing style of leadership while those who are more reserved lead in a way that reflects...

Trust is the glue that bonds all human relationships. Without some level of trust, we have no certainty as we move forward.  Leadership is fundamentally a relationship between a person who leads and a person who responds to that leader. People will follow to the degree that they trust the leader.

Trust is never taken; it is always given. Actually, loaned. Trust resides only with followers, and they decide if they will extend or withdraw their trust. They chose based upon the ongoing flow of impressions provided by the leader. Trustworthy actions generally motivate a follower to extend more trus...

No rational person will follow a leader who is perceived to be deceitful, dishonest, or untrustworthy.  Even in Westerns and gangster movies, there is honor among thieves. This noble code of conduct – even within the ignoble ranks of the ‘bad guys’ – is a bond that allows decisions to be made and acted upon with some level of trust and certainty.  

Leaders cultivate trust within their followers as they act in a manner that is consistent with accepted and anticipated moral norms. They keep their word (at least to each other). Their actions are congruent with their values. They speak truthfu...

Leaders can lead only to the degree that followers trust them. People of high moral character tend to be perceived as trustworthy, but character is not the only basis upon which trust is established. We trust people who are good at what they do. Experts enjoy the benefit of our respect, admiration and deference. We trust them until they prove untrustworthy.

The complexity of life can be distilled into three broad areas of competence:  time, money and relationships. We instinctively make judgments about the people we meet and develop impressions of how well they manage time, money, and relations...

Consistency provides the stage on which trust loves to dance. Inconsistency, however introduces an uneven floor on which every step may be your last. Too many leaders change direction, switch emphasis, or are seduced by the latest and greatest, wiz-bang, next-best-thing opportunity. Unpredictability creates a dangerous dance floor that never allows for corporate momentum, freedom or grace.

Consistency applies to our character and competency. When we behave consistently with the values we espouse over a long period of time, trust grows. And the longer we demonstrate mastery of life skills and pr...

Vision is the third, irreducible element of leadership. Like capacity and trust, vision is essential to a leader’s effectiveness. The more clearly a leader envisions the future, the greater the probability that he or she will be able to guide others to that new, and for some, unimaginable destination.

Besides establishing direction, vision provides three critical and practical institutional functions. Vision unifies the group, energizes the corporate passion, and defines priorities.  

Unity is found in a clearly defined destination. A group can move as one when the individuals are drawn to accom...

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