Today was a good day. It wasn’t good because I accomplished things of great significance. It was good because I got to listen to how God is at work in the lives of others. And I got to think about, and give thanks for, how God has been at work in my life through the influence of others. Let me explain.
In the world of basketball, long tenured and successful coaches often have a coaching tree. That is they have a list of persons who’ve both played or coached for them that have gone on to take the coaching reins elsewhere and become successful. Well, today I spent some time in my leadership tree.
Leadership tree? That’s right, I think all of us who endeavor to lead find ourselves rooted in our own unique version of a leadership tree. It is made up of those whom we have been fortunate enough to learn from when it comes to leading. This may include persons we count in our tree because they were a mentor, a supervisor, or an experienced colleague from whom we’ve learned the ropes.
Today I spent time thinking and talking a bit about some of my leadership influences – persons whom I’ve learned leadership from, and who – on occasion – I find myself quoting or emulating in my own leadership. Specifically this included a mentor from my early years in ministry, a colleague with whom I used to work, and a leader friend whose tree I’ve become fortunate enough to have been grafted into in recent years.
But leadership trees, like coaching trees, grow two ways. They include those from whom we have learned leadership, and those whom we have been fortunate enough to lead. It’s this second part of the leadership tree that can develop and catch us by surprise. Over time, if we are intentional and obedient, we will have opportunity to influence and help shape the leadership views and craft of others. As we grow more mature that list of others who now occupy the branches of our tree begins to fill out with additional names.
Today I got to spend time with two persons whom I’ve been fortunate enough to lead and encourage in the work of leadership. What was so encouraging about it was hearing the enthusiasm and joy they expressed in the opportunities they have been given to lead. I came away from both conversations smiling from ear to ear as I carried some of the contagious energy of their happiness and contentment away with me into my day.
But here’s the thing. I don’t write about this in order to any way take credit for or brag about those who are in my tree. I happen to know that mine is but one of the leadership trees they’ve grown in. No, what warms my heart about today is this: Just as we each have benefited from the investments others have made in us, God so often provides opportunity for us to pay that forward to others; whom we then get to sit down with and hear how they are paying it forward to yet others. This is what it means to live a leadership legacy.
So, let me ask you this: Who’s in your leadership tree? Be sure to look both ways. Who do you give thanks for, sometimes quote or emulate, and remember as a mentor or leadership influence? What are the particular leadership lessons you’ve gained from that person and incorporated into your own craft of leading?
Then, what about the other direction? Who have you formerly, or are you currently, intentionally and purposefully investing in when it comes to your leadership? Who do you believe in enough to take the time and give the energy to cheer on, encourage, offer a listening ear or impart a word of guidance? Are you living a leadership legacy?
I’d be interested in hearing some of those stories . . . . .