A common leadership saying is that a leader can only lead people as far as they have gone themselves. I couldn’t agree more.
But there’s one facet of this truth that we need to be careful of, especially when it comes to the way we communicate to inspire and motivate the people we’re leading.
A person walking ten miles ahead of you is a hard person to follow.
It’s one thing to say you’ve been ten miles ahead and you’re going to lead them to the destination. It’s another thing to tell people I’m ten miles ahead, come find me.
Leaders lead the way. Leaders should inspire people to raise their game by their life and what they say. Leaders can only take people as far as they have gone themselves.
But they also have to live and communicate in such a way that the people following them believe it’s possible to get to where they’re going.
For example, if you’re a pastor, you might think that it’s going to be inspiring for your people to hear that you’re like Martin Luther and wake up at 4am to spend three hours in prayer. Good intentions, but that might not inspire people. It might actually make them want to stop trying at all. They’re already having a hard enough time praying for 5 minutes a day.
What you need to do is be a person who can challenge them to move from 5 to 10. And then 10 to 15. And so on. You’ve already been there, so you can inspire them to get there. But it’s also something they’ll believe is possible.
In your leadership, aim to be an example that people can aspire to while still being a person that people can relate to. Then you’ll be able to lead people to where you’ve been.
Hard 2 Follow?
Here's some good advice from the blog of Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC: