As a leader, it’s easy to understand and embrace your responsibility for those entrusted to your leadership. But how often do you think about your responsibility to lead your leaders? Try these 10 strategies for exercising your leadership skills in relationship to those who lead you.
1. Pray for them. This is pretty self-explanatory. Everyone needs prayer, and people in leadership often need extra doses of God’s wisdom.
2. Care about them. Sometimes we’re so intimidated by our leaders, or eager to get their feedback, that we forget they’re real people with real lives and challenges. Think about ways to encourage your leaders. Ask them how they’re doing and how you can serve them.
3. Make them look good. Servant leadership means supporting others in their efforts. Instead of giving in to the temptation to undermine leaders when their weaknesses show, find ways to compensate for their shortcomings.
4. Draw boundaries. Your leaders don’t know when you’ve reached your limit unless you speak up. Chances are, they care about you and don’t want you to burn out. So respectfully and graciously tell them what you can and cannot do.
5. Tell them what you need. Sometimes we make the mistake of expecting our leaders to read our minds, and we resent them when they fail to give us what we need. Instead of waiting for them to figure it out, tell them. Ask questions when you need information, make requests when you need resources, and be open about your challenges.
6. Be queen (or king) of your castle. Take responsibility for what your leaders have entrusted to you. Make sure you understand how involved your leaders want to be; beyond that, consider yourself the queen and show pride in ownership. In support of your leaders’ overall vision, develop a specific vision for your area of responsibility—and share it with them.
7. Take initiative. When you see something that needs to be done, do it, or speak to someone who can. Bring up your ideas, look for ways to make things better, and ask your leaders if you can carry out your plans.
8. Do your homework. Before you make a proposal to your leaders, anticipate their questions, concerns, and needs. Then prepare yourself so you’ll really know what you’re talking about and you can meet their needs on the spot.
9. Eat, sleep, and breathe your calling. Wherever God has placed you, develop a passion for the calling he has given you. Let your obedience to God motivate you to get better at what you do. Then express your passion to your leaders. Your enthusiasm is likely to feed theirs when they’re tired—and they, in turn, can help to keep yours burning.
10. Dare to disagree. When your leaders request your opinion, make sure you give it to them. The power of collaboration is lost if everyone just says what they think the leaders want to hear. And sometimes you need to speak up when your leaders haven’t requested your opinion. Seek God’s wisdom, then respectfully disagree when you believe your leaders need correction.
This blog post first appeared here on Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership.
© 2012 Amy Simpson.