One of the greatest accomplishments of a leader is to see his or her followers capture a vision and work as a team to see that vision become a reality. There will be times however, when followers don’t agree with every decision and direction a leader is taking.
So, the question is, how can we lead others, even when there is not complete agreement on a decision or direction?
There are many things we could look at, but I believe one of the greatest characteristics of a strong leader is someone who is committed to a vision and does not allow their convictions to waiver in the face of adversity. Someone who displayed this character was the late Margaret Thatcher; former Prime Minister of Great Britain:
“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Margaret Thatcher
“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” Margaret Thatcher
As a boy I grew up in England under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher. Whether you loved or loathed the ‘Iron Lady,’ she had an extraordinary record in British government and many successful reelections. She had the ability to rally her cabinet and her country towards a vision for a better future, even in the face of great opposition. But what can we learn from her?
1. Know your vision and what you stand for: Before you set off on a journey as a leader, ask yourself if you truly know what you stand for? Do you know what you live and breathe for? Have you sought God and the advice of Godly people to discover your personal vision as a leader? People will follow someone who exudes a clarity for a vision they will go the extra mile for. When people look at you, do they see your passion and convictions or do they see ambiguity?
2. Stay on course and avoid becoming a people pleaser: There will always be questions and disagreements with a vision and its implementation. However, it’s imperative that a Godly leader looks to the end goal and does not waver under pressure. Of course, it’s essential that we humbly but confidently communicate our decisions without caving in from the pressure of others.
3. The strength of your convictions will lead others: People in your organization are looking direction. They are part of your organization because something or someone resonated with them at some point. As they ‘travel’ with you, they are looking for direction and a vision to commit to. Ultimately, the strength and confidence of your convictions will help others to become convicted too. It’s not that they won’t think objectively for themselves, they are simply looking for a leader to spur them onto a greater purpose. What kind of commitment and conviction do others see in you?
What convicts you? What would others say you live and breathe for? Is your personal vision convincing to others? Are you convinced yourself? Margaret Thatcher did not always say the most popular things or look to keep everyone happy. She gained followers by having a clear vision, a steadfast resolve for the vision, and a conviction that convinced others. Even when they did not agree with all of her decisions, her strong leadership convinced them to continue on the journey with her.