Why Great Leaders Care About Reverence
To whom do you give credit when good things happen?
Do you naturally give credit to others? This might include employees, suppliers, or even those who funded your endeavors. Or do you take all the credit that your hard work was the reason you experienced a positive outcome?
For years, farmers have typically understood this principle. Those who believe in God will easily acknowledge that He alone provides the sunshine and rain, and even pollination, which leads to a bountiful harvest.
It’s the same for anyone involved in leadership. God alone provides the essential ingredients that lead to successful outcomes.
But what about when bad things happen or when we experience challenging events?
At some point in time, most Farmers experience the effects of damaging winds, hail, drought, floods, pests, and more. Likewise, all leaders at some point experience difficult issues, damaging problems and challenges beyond their control. They too also experience utter disaster.
When bad things happen, do we blame God? Or do we recognize such occurrences are also permitted by God, possibly even for our benefit or the benefit of others?
How a leader responds to both positive outcomes and challenging situations provides a window into their leadership potential.
Leadership Potential is Revealed by Reverence
In his book Good to Great, best selling author Jim Collins describes what makes a great leader, a person he refers to as a Level 5 leader. Collins states:
“Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well….. At the same time, they look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly.”
Collins’ assessment of leadership shows that humility is a critical component to becoming a great leader, to which I fully agree. But I suggest that great leadership goes one step further by embracing the value of reverence.
Reverence means profound awe and respect.
Who then is deserving of this reverence? For God-fearing leaders, all reverence is given to God.
When we show profound awe to the almighty God and his goodness, we’re demonstrating admiration and appreciation. Thankfulness is the key to winning God’s heart, the giver of all good things. When we show respect for the decisions God makes in our lives, whether we like them or not, we’re demonstrating humility. And being teachable is the key to continually growing as a leader, experiencing fresh insights, and seeing new opportunities.
The combination of thankfulness and being teachable that is born out of reverence reveals our leadership potential.
3 Ways to Build Your Leadership Potential
Remember that leadership is a journey, not a destination. Great leaders are always striving for an increase to their leadership potential.
To help you on your leadership journey, here are three ways to embrace the value of reverence that will build your leadership potential:
- Daily devotional. Spend time alone in prayer. Consider the many blessings you have experienced, both the good and the bad that are shaping you for a future purpose. Give thanks and ask for help where it’s needed. And don’t forget to also pray for those you lead!
- Engage a trusted friend. We can all get a fat head at times, taking more credit for our own success than we should. Great leaders find ways to remain humble. So ask someone you trust, or better yet an accountability partner, to (gently) remind you where all credit really belongs – to God – if they see your pride getting carried away. It’s also good to be reminded that God will provide the necessary help when you need it. Just don’t forget to ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-8)
- Regularly acknowledge the source of your help. Let everyone around you know that you recognize where all good things come from: God. It’s also important to let others know that you rely on Him for help. This is not sign of weakness (as poor leaders view it), rather it’s a sign of true strength to acknowledge the need for help.
Altogether, these disciplines reveal how thankfulness and being teachable are foundational to fulfilling your leadership potential. But it starts with humility and reverence.