I have often quoted the axiom, “a difference between a leader and a follower is PERSPECTIVE. And, a difference between good leaders and better leaders is better perspective.”
There are things we can do to provide perspective, ways we can gain the leadership equivalent of altitude, but perspective is more than a strategic issue. The greatest perspective is actually spiritual, and as such, it calls for the work of the Spirit.
After all, James promised that if anyone lacks wisdom he/she should ask of God who gives generously.
Therefore, in that Spirit, I wrote a Prayer for a Leader. I literally printed off a copy and clipped it into my day planner so that I would be reminded to pray these thoughts every day until it becomes second nature.
A Leader’s Prayer
Lord, help me
Help me see beyond…
… my experience
… my training and knowledge
… my wisdom and insight
… my intuition
… and beyond myself.
Help me see beyond…
… the surface
… the obvious
… the urgent
… easy options, familiar approaches
and obvious personnel
to see beyond what is, in order to see what could be.
In every situation, help me see beyond the…
… and strategic factors
to see the real spiritual issues and dynamics in play.
And, while helping me see beyond…
grant me the ability to see, understand, and embrace
with unwavering courage.
It’s a simple concept really: Wise leaders consciously pay attention to and sharpen their radar.
Everyone knows what radar does. It creates a picture of what is out there on the horizon that a pilot should be paying attention too. In my pathetically non-technical version, radar systems pick up signals from a wide variety of stuff out there and then through sophisticated programming software sorts through all the signals to determine which are truly important.
Some radar signals are welcome and some function as a warning.
Wise leaders rely on their radar as well. On the positive side, leaders utilize their radar to watch for the “blips” of potential new leaders, for new opportunities, for trends to be seized upon, chances to position their ministry or organization for expanded influence, and more. On the negative side, they are always alert for troubling trends, for financial challenges, for approaching conflicts, etc. etc. You get the idea.
The question is: how does a leader sharpen the programming and sensitivity of her or his radar?
The answer is found in the habits of life-long learners. Life-long learners are intentional about their own growth through mentoring, reading, training, and by putting themselves into stretching experiences. These kinds of activities literally program the software of your radar. They enable you to sort through all the incoming signals of a demanding life to spot the ‘radar blips’ that you need to respond to.
The question is not simple are you a life-long learner, but what are you doing as a learner to increase the capacity of your leadership radar?