If you go to Amazon and navigate to the section of books categorized as “Business & Money: Management & Leadership,” you’ll find 34,716 results. You read that correctly. There are 34,716 leadership books on Amazon. That’s a whole lot of leadership!
We’re inundated with the latest and greatest leadership thoughts, and wherever we look, we can find a new leadership lesson. Now, before we go too far down that rabbit hole, I want to pause and say that I don’t think that’s bad. There are so many leadership articles, books, podcasts and resources out there because leadership is a tough thing to crack. I think the more resources the better. But I think that the emphasis on leadership has set up millennials for a false sense of what the real world will look like.
With all of the resources shared on social media and the importance of leadership always being pressed upon us in classes, culture and in our jobs, it’s understandable for millennials to think that leadership is what work and life after college is all about. And as I was thinking through this reality, I stumbled upon Luke 16:10 that says “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
I’ve read that verse so many times and heard it taught in countless sermons, and it’s always been about money in my mind. Be faithful with a little cash, and you’ll be faithful with a lot. Good lesson, and I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks, Jesus. Moving on.
But for some reason, I read that the other day and took a second to pause. I think the same is true when it comes to being a leader. But to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m going to rephrase just a touch to make this the “Leadership Luke 16:10.” Hope this isn’t heresy.
“If you are faithful in little tasks, you will be faithful with large leadership.”
In terms that you may have heard your parents or boss say, “You’ve got to pay your dues.”
No one walks in fresh out of college and steps into leadership. People who have been working in an industry for years and years don’t even just step into leadership. Because to be entrusted to lead a team, you first have to lead yourself well. Self-leadership seems kind of silly when you first hear it, but it’s where we all need to start.
The smallest team you can lead is a team of one: yourself. Leading yourself looks like being faithful in the tasks you have in your world, in doing the things you’ll say you do when you say you’ll do them and always making yourself better. Just like you would want a team to be improving and performing, you should be leading yourself in the same way.
Leading yourself well is not just something that is a nice concept, and you’ll see if you can get around to it.
It’s vital to master self-leadership before being entrusted to lead a team because if you can’t lead your team of one, you definitely won’t be able to lead others.
Leading yourself will show the people who make the decisions that you’re ready to lead others. How to do that can seem a little nebulous, but here are three ways you can lead yourself right now:
1. Keep your commitments to yourself.
Full disclosure, I stole this idea. Stephen Covey talks about this idea in his book The Speed of Trust. Covey focuses a lot on how to earn trust with others in the book, but in the first chapter, he says the basis of earning trust from others is being able to first trust yourself. You can trust yourself when you stick to the things you tell yourself that you’ll do. Sometimes that means going to the gym. Other times it means finishing one of the four books you’ve started. Whatever it is in your life, start sticking to it!
2. Take it one step further.
Think for a second about what you would want out of a team. I bet in that list is a group of people who go above and beyond to deliver their absolute best. Why wouldn’t that be on your list for personal leadership then? And as you personally push yourself to go over the top, your leaders will notice and give you the chance to lead a team that follows your lead.
3. Get it done.
When you’re first making your way in your career, you’re probably just being given a lot of tasks. It can be frustrating and seem like an endless sea of to-do lists that will never be appreciated. That’s a trap I’ve personally fallen into many times. I’m only ever going to do tasks, and this idea of leadership is just something that I read about for a potential future me. But what I’ve been learning over the last couple of months is that when I’m taking care of my tasks, it’s showing that I can take care of a team. When I’m faithful in the small tasks, I’m showing that I can be trusted in leadership.
So before you close this tab, what’s one thing you can do to lead yourself today and own your area? A pro tip that has helped me start new rhythms in my life: Set reminders on your phone. I have a ton of reminders that go off every day to remind me of rhythms I want to implement in my life. After a while, those reminders go away, and I’m doing the things I set out to do on a regular basis. So what is that reminder you can set for yourself today? How can you best lead yourself right now?