Some leadership characteristics never change. The need for vision casting, strategic planning, and motivation are a few among many.
At this Christmas season, I am thinking of a leadership characteristic that marks the very God of Christmas—connection. Emmanuel is God connecting. Amazing.
In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter says God is not willing that any should perish (be disconnected). John, the Apostle remarks, “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved (connected) through him.” (John 3:16)
I suppose God, in his Trinitarian-self, could have been content to dwell in perfect divine unity. But God chose to connect. Furthermore, connecting with God is essential.
Yet, connecting with God should involve connecting with what God loves, should it not? How can we say we love God and hate (not connect) with our brother? It’s not possible. The good news is that love connected God with people, and persons with persons.
Henry Cloud, in his book, The Power of the Other presents an intriguing case for connecting as the essence of leadership. He asked leaders to evaluate their leadership connections in terms of four grids: 1) disconnected; 2) in a bad connection; 3) in a pseudo-connection; or 4) truly connected to others.
Leaders in the first grid (disconnected) are frustrating to be around. Cloud suggests followers often feel unheard, misunderstood, and unable to have an impact. We all know the feeling. It promotes work arounds with the boss and side conversations with followers. More than that, it produces work place drag. Energy goes down along with productivity.
Granted, some leadership tasks are carried alone. The phrase “It’s lonely at the top” is born out of such leadership demands. But leaders must guard against self-imposed isolation. It is not healthy and does not serve the greater good.
Cloud poses a deep question as a test for connection; “Do you have someplace where you can be 100 percent honest and vulnerable as to what you are going through in your leadership role , where you can totally be honest about struggles, conflicts, needs , weaknesses, etc.?”
So ask yourself, how well are you connected? Because of God’s love expressed at Christmas, we are never alone from his Divine presence. Emmanuel affirms that. But who else knows you?
We’ll look at the other three grids in future blog posts.
Dennis Nichols is the Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership degree at William Jessup University