How to Set the Example Without Killing the Morale

Boss at work
What kind of example are you setting as a leader? (iStock photo)

What do great leaders look like? That's almost like asking, "When will I know I'm in love?" The answer: "You just will. You'll know it when you see it."

Recognizing a great leader is similar. You'll know it when you see them. Great leaders are different. When you meet one, you can sense it. They're just not like everybody else.

It's been my privilege to learn from several great leaders. Fred Richard, the pastor of the church from which we planted our church, Seacoast, is one of those. When you are around him, you just want to watch and take notes. Any room he walks into, you recognize his leadership gifts. He sees things differently than the average person.

The writer of Genesis said that God saw that unique something in a leader named Caleb:

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"But My servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit with him and followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land where he went, and his seed will possess it" (Num. 14:24).

"A different spirit." So, what is that?

Jeff Haden wrote an article in Inc. about eight things truly outstanding leaders do without thinking. They are all good, but I especially liked No. 5: They set the example.

Say you're walking through a factory with the plant manager and you see a piece of trash on the floor. There are two types of people when that happens.

One spots it, stops, struts over, snatches it up, crumples it like a beer can and strides 20 feet to a trashcan to slam it home. He's picked up the trash, but he's also making a statement.

The other veers over without breaking stride, picks it up, crumples it up, keeps talking and doesn't throw it away until he comes across a convenient trashcan. He's not thinking about making a statement. He just saw a little trash and picked it up without thinking.

Simple example? Sure. But it is extremely telling—especially to employees.

Why? Employees notice what you do. When you're in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do ... and what that says about you.

Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it's important to them. It's part of who they are. They care about go, not show—and in time, so do the people they work with.

The whole article is worth a read.

So, which kind of example do you think it would be easier to follow? Why?

Greg Surratt is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church, one of the early adopters of the multisite model. Located in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Seacoast has been recognized by various media as an innovative and influential thought leader in future strategies for church growth and development.

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