Ashley Swin – Follow to Lead

So, there seems to be a common design in humans hearts to be good at stuff. Sometimes when you’re good at stuff you want to lead out in those things because you know you can teach or share how to accomplish those things. That’s really cool. Also, I’m not saying everyone wants to be this up front, big time leader, but most people have something in their depths that has the capacity to lead out in something great. There are also the confident few who know that they are great at leading up front and want to lead right now, anything… just give them the platform and they’ll do it, they want it, they love it. And then there are those people who are reluctant to stand out and lead anything at all for many different reasons… which I believe commonly is fear of what others might think or pride of failing or the misinterpretation of what leading actually is. Either way, there is still something that stirs leadership to some degree.

What is leading? Well, one lovely dictionary definition puts it like this: “show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them”. What I want to showcase is that a LEADER is simply a person whom others follow whether walking in front OR beside. It is being able to go along side someone and see their potential, to teach, encourage, strengthen and help motivate. Leading isn’t a job role it is only an aspect of a job. Leading also isn’t limited to a microphone or a bosses chair…

So… what kind of leader do you think you are?

One of the main things I have been thinking about recently is leadership styles. Everyone has their own style and comfort. They have their own element that they naturally gravitate toward and thrive in. Some leaders love to lead from behind the scenes, serving, giving, one-on-one and some love leading with a mic in their hand, charging forward, cultivating passion, crusading the way on the front-lines. Both are necessary because both are needed for our world to function. So with that find what you’re good at. Observe yourself. Think of the things you love. Find your flow… and then as you are figuring it out ask yourself…

What kind of leader do I want to be? As we grow up we learn little bits and pieces of who we are, what we’re good at, our gifts, natural tendencies, what we like, what puts us over the edge, what stretches us, what fills are hearts up and soo soo much more! There is so much beauty in that. Understanding how we were each intricately wired. As we are finding out about ourselves and wanting to cultivate growth in leading, a huge part is looking at those you are surrounded by. Who do you look up to in different areas? What do you love in them? How do they lead in different areas of their life? Is there a piece of them that you want to be like? If you have someone in your life that you look up to, LEARN FROM THEM! Look at how they lead, how they handle difficulties, how they stand-out in a crowd, how they listen to others. Glean from them. Get mentoured by them. Follow them…

Follow THEM! The biggest thing in learning to be a good leader is first being a good follower. When you have a good (or even not so good) leader are you following them in a respectable way? Are you listening to them? Patient with them? Yielding to them? Honouring of them? Submissive to their authority in your life? When you are able to earnestly say yes to the above, you are learning to be a good leader. When I imagine all of this I think one of the worst things ever would be to eagerly lead in something when you hadn’t previously been a good follower… you would probably learn the hard way that leading is incredibly difficult and when you have followers who aren’t willing to give it their all, or have your back, or won’t take on things with a good attitude then you will fall short, burn out and feel grievous on the inside. Be a good follower. You’ll learn through that how to be a good leader that has a lot of…

INTEGRITY! Integrity will hold you together as someone who leads. You will lead with your whole heart even when it’s hard if you have integrity. You will push through. It will show that you are worthy to be followed, notable enough to walk before or beside someone in their endeavors. But what is integrity exactly? It’s the little things. It’s picking up that piece of rubbish or trash that you didn’t drop on the ground. It’s looking at others with an open heart. It’s being the same person behind closed doors as you would in front of an impressed crowd. It’s showing honesty, humility and trustworthiness. Integrity is something that builds unity, stability and peace. If you are an “upfront” type leader but are able to show that you are sensitive to others, caring, meek and selfless, showing a strong work ethic that benefits community… people will see you as someone worthy to be heard out. They will trust you and see you as strong, not arrogant. If you are a servant hearted, “behind the scenes” type leader but able to showcase your gentle assertiveness, empathetic and determined heart, not afraid of the world, ready to conquer all attitude… people will see you as a force to be reckoned with.

I leave you with this thought. A good leader isn’t someone born with a built in super ability. It is someone who understands that they have individual insights that will help others grow. Recognizes their own need of growth and humility. Is someone who heeds wisdom from others. And someone not afraid to make mistakes because it builds character… and that character will build integrity which gives you the platform to be able to reach others through… leading.

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