|Credit: Creative Commons (Wayne Wilkinson)|
There's nothing wrong with admiring a very public or even famous leader. If a leader is well-known for his or her service and faithfulness, there's no reason we shouldn't glean a few tips from how they lead. After all, if they're good at what they do, then we can learn from them to help us be better at what we do.
Sometimes, however, we give into the delusion that what we see from the outside is all there is to their leadership. But the reality is that for the most part, the only parts of their lives and their leadership that are recorded are the parts that are at least moderately interesting. Very rarely do we get a glimpse into the mundane parts of leaders' lives. Sure, we may be fooled into thinking we're getting an "inside look" into someone's life because they are followed around by a journalist for a few hours, or they are particular vulnerable during an interview.
Here's something that's easy for us to lose sight of: Faithful, obedient leaders aren't just good leaders when the spotlight is on them, when an important decision needs to be made, or when they're rallying the troops. Faithful, obedient leaders lead faithfully in the mundane. There might be a few people who can fake their way to success as a leader, but in general, most leaders that we would consider really, really good leaders aren't just good leaders in the spotlight--they're good leaders in the mundane, too.
The trouble is that when we see leaders we admire, we don't get to see them leading in the mundane. And if we aren't careful, we'll find ourselves trying to emulate (or outright copy) someone that doesn't exist, because our perception of that person comes only from what we see when the spotlight's on them and they're "on." As Andy Stanley puts it (a leader I admire, while we're on the topic), we end up comparing our everyday lives with others' highlight reels.
It's great to learn from leaders who are clearly good at what they do. But maybe today, you need to focus on leading in the mundane.
Leading in the mundane is difficult. It's difficult because there's no technique you can learn to do it, there's no way to finesse or charm your way through it, and there's no one you can delegate it to. Which is too bad, because those are things many leaders have learned to do well. It just requires you to be faithful and obedient when there's no applause or praise, and when there's no immediate payoff.
It might mean taking the time to write an overdue thank-you note someone who helps you behind the scenes every week.
Perhaps it's calling someone to apologize to them for something you know you need to apologize for, however small.
Or it might mean that you need to lead your family by turning off your phone and leaving your laptop closed when you get home tonight.
So before you pick up another book on leadership or put a new leadership technique into practice, prayerfully consider how you need to lead better in the mundane. It might be the best thing you've done as a leader in a long, long time.