When I started out in leadership over 20 years ago, I pictured leadership as an open road straight ahead of me. I assumed there would be peaks and the occasional valley, but God called me to this. I was educated and prepared for this. Wasn’t I?
Today, I use a different metaphor. I’ve found that my leadership journey has looked less like a road, and more like a huge maze! This maze is filled with intricate, complex, long, and sometimes blind passageways--all thrown in for good (and humbling) measure! Life-changing stages influenced my maze (singleness, marriage, motherhood), while different organizations and roles shaped my maze. Learning to navigate my leadership maze has been an essential catalyst for growth and effectiveness on my journey.
Each of us is moving through our own leadership maze. Perhaps it’s the intricate passageways of developing skill and character, or the complex long paths of understanding leadership in a new life stage. Maybe your team chased a project into a blind alley, consuming time, energy and trust, or perhaps it’s your business that reached a humbling dead end. Our stories are unique. It’s difficult to find a one-size fits-all answer for our leadership challenges and opportunities. Yet, there are some key priorities that we can all adopt as we navigate our maze.
Depend on Jesus
Sometimes we’re so busy trying to lead that we forget to depend on Jesus. The greatest leader that has ever walked the earth is also our Savior, friend and Lord. He has the power to continually transform your life. Do you feel too weak and overwhelmed to lead? He offers you His strength and power (2 Cor. 12: 9, Phil. 4:12) Confused? He offers wisdom (James 1:5). Depend on Him.
Cultivate a growth Mindset
Your maze has unpredictable experiences that will stretch and test you in new ways. To keep moving forward, you need the kind of mindset that doesn’t cling to past achievements, or base its security in familiar skills or settings. That mindset finds unchartered territory overwhelming and will limit your progress. You’ll need a growth mindset.
How do you cultivate a growth mindset?
Give yourself permission to learn and grow as a leader, rather than feel the need to know everything in advance. Seek wisdom, ask questions, take risks, and even make a few mistakes. By choosing curiosity and courage over fear, you’ll grow and propel your leadership.
Look After Your Body
Whatever your season of life, or level of opportunity, leadership can be exhausting. Whilst your dreams and visions are unlimited–your body? Not so much! It’s amazing how much we’re impacted by a good night's sleep, nutritious meals, regular exercise and water. You only have one body to help you get the job done; are you looking after it?
Build Your Community
Yes, your maze is unique but you are not alone. You have friends, family, colleagues, mentors and neighbors on your team. They’ll encourage you along the complex paths, and rescue you from dead ends. They’ll help you with family rhythms and school runs, and extra meals as needed. If you’re open and vulnerable enough to ask for help, and share your needs along with your success stories, this will help build your community!
We have some great God-given adventures ahead of us in leadership, so embrace the maze! As you learn to navigate your way through, it’ll strengthen your skills, enlarge your faith, and equip you for greater effectiveness in today’s world.