Have you ever pondered or even evaluated the real success of your meetings as a group or even with just one other person? We often leave the meeting feeling confident we have had a meeting of the minds. Yet often days or weeks later situations surface indicating not everyone left the meeting with the same perspective you did. How can leadership get clarity at a meeting and at a level it results in less miscommunication? It starts with the simple misunderstanding of what is leadership or for that matter what is the real meaning of any word.
To answer the question, “what is leadership?” we have to first deal with a more challenging issue. We must understand how we each arrive at our individual definitions of any and all words we use – both as they stand alone out of context and as they stand as words in a variety of different contexts. Even if I provide you with my definition, as you continue to read you will not thoroughly adopt my suggestion. Your definition of the word remains too entwined in the various language circuits of your brain and one little fleeting definition on my part will not be enough to dislodge your definition with all its subtleties from your brain network.
So referring back to the word “leadership,” we could continue to have a great conversation about leadership and come to an agreement that we have a meeting of the minds and yet come away with a very different view of what we individually concluded. We would each come away happy the other person now clearly understands us, while what we understand is still quite different. If we fully understand the challenge of accurate communication, we would grasp why we should work harder to simply minimize our miscommunication.
You ask, “Why the large disparity among people regarding the definition of words?” Much of it has to do with language acquisition in the first place. It has to do with hearing or reading words in a variety of different conditions such as different sound patterns, different contexts, different environments, and different relationships with different levels of trust and/or friendship. In terms of our brains, word definitions are not concrete; words are more abstract than we want to believe or accept. No matter how hard we try we will not communicate perfectly. We need to go into and out of all conversations with the realization of imperfect communication in mind.
This article will not provide a comprehensive – all-inclusive definition of leadership. Even if I tried, it would not necessarily become yours. However, I will provide you our definition of leadership in the context of underlying Biblical values, especially as it has to do with John 13 love through serving. We define leadership as, “giving your heart to others by listening to their heart.”
We tend to listen to words, constantly evaluating those words in terms of how they impact us. If the speaker is verbally attacking us or attacking our ideas we tend to become defensive in response. However, more often than not the attacker is actually afraid of something and we miss it because of own need to defend ourselves. We tend to fail to hear the heart of others because of our heart focusing on ourselves.
Allow me to challenge you to define leadership by spending some time thinking through the word “leadership” in general, then as it is used in a variety of contexts. Then think it through from God’s perspective. Read John 13 and define leadership based on what you read. Then re-read the Great Commission at the end of the book of Matthew and define biblical leadership in light of Christ’s authority.
The challenge before us is recognizing the ambiguity of words, the significant differing definitions of those words, our tendency to usurp Christ’s authority over His church, and then failing to demonstrate leadership love through listening to the hearts of others out of the heart God has given us.
Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart
When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world