Leadership comes from heart
To understand why there’s such confusion about what makes a leader, let’s start with a clear definition of what true leadership is.
“Leadership is influence; nothing more and nothing less,” he says. When one is more aware of people every day, it will become apparent that there are servant leaders all around having major influences on their surroundings.
I believe leadership has everything to do with the heart condition. What we think or believe about others comes from deep within our hearts. If we truly care about other people, that will be apparent in the words we speak and the actions we choose. We can try our best to hide what’s in our hearts, but eventually what’s in there will be apparent.
Many people think they need to be careful, or even crafty, with words they speak to others. Truly words can cause tremendous damage. It's important to be careful with the words we speak. But the secret to consistently having good things coming out of our mouths is to have good things in our hearts.
Consider that heart condition when interacting with employees. Instead of viewing them as workers we use to accomplish a job, we need to see them as people on our team who are able to think, problem-solve and create. We need to be interested in their ideas and dreams rather than only in how they do their jobs. It’s possible for us to accomplish our vision while also helping them with their individual dreams. Those considerations give us clues as to what’s in our hearts and hints at the type of influence we will have with those people.
Those concepts also apply in marriage. A close examination of our hearts reveals what we believe about our spouses. It doesn’t really matter who “wears the pants.” It’s more important that we’re both striving to be servant leaders who truly care about the desires and dreams of our mates. We need to help our spouses be all they can become; we don’t want to hold them back. We must determine to be great listeners who not only intently listen but also perceive what’s not spoken. Every spouse has an extremely important leadership role that we promised to fulfill; we need to give it our best.
Our children can be deeply rewarded — or damaged — by our heart conditions and the thinking we have as their parents. I believe being a parent is one of the most important leadership roles we’ll ever hold. Leadership is influence. Throughout our lives many people will influence us. But parents have the greatest opportunity and responsibility to lead their children.
Parenthood is not just about passing down the farm or transferring assets. Have a plan to invest in the hearts and minds of the children. Prepare them to be leaders through the beliefs we’ve helped place in their heart and minds. We all have influence — all day, every day. Therefore we are all leaders. Our farms, crops, cattle, environment and machinery are important, but none of those things will ever be more important than people. If we protect our hearts and have a plan to invest in ourselves and others, good things will happen— no matter what the milk price, or weather, news and politics might lead us to believe.
Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach.
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