ABCs of DifferenceMaking Leadership


Genuinely difference-making leaders lead from the heart, from the inside out and practice history's greatest leader's ABCs of nurturing and nourishing intimate, trusting relationships. Through their practice of those ABCs, these special leaders facilitate follower growth and development.  

So what are those ABCs?  

DifferenceMaking ABCs

A)  Being available.

The way and frequency a leader connects with others significantly affects results.  People follow leaders who are committed, remain connected, who ask questions, who really listen with their hearts, who partner with followers to get things done and always show appreciation by recognizing the talents and contributions of those entrusted to their care.  They teach, coach, mentor, encourage, support and affirm their followers.

Like history's greatest leader, outstanding leaders are neither fear- or pride-driven.  They have patient spirits, and therefore don’t view people as impositions on their time, but rather as opportunities to serve.  As Jesus was, they’re very personal…high-touch, more than high-tech individuals.  They’re not afraid of intimacy.  They know closeness doesn’t lead to loss of importance, control or power.  They recognize that’s a myth, and thus they make themselves available to and diligently initiate contact with followers.

Truly great leaders know leadership is very much situational, and thus demands a participative partnership between a leader and his or her followers.  They realize unexpected circumstances occur and create “in the moment” situational twists.  Like Jesus, they recognize that effectiveness in leadership is driven by what followers need. Therefore, as he was, they’re attentive and flexible, adapting their leadership to what’s appropriate in the situation, without compromising values and without owning followers’ responsibilities, choices and related consequences. 

They read people extremely well, and when they respond they’re always pleasant and professional.  They teach, coach and mentor when they discern followers are uninformed and have learning needs, direct and guide when followers appear confused, challenge and provoke them when they’re reluctant, encourage them and keep their hopes alive when they seem down, affirm them when they succeed, and rather than swoop in to solve their problems, let them own those and come up with their own solutions.   

In all those situations, the leader behaves like Jesus, especially asking lots of questions to facilitate participation in their followers’ own solution-creation and learning, thinking and responding, rather than being told by the leader what to do and reacting without imagination.  In other words, great leaders patiently come alongside their followers to teach them how to fish rather than catching fish for them.    

Many other benefits ensue as well, from a leader being consciously connected and available to their followers, including opportunities to recognize conflicts and respond to them swiftly.

In summary, excellent leaders don’t isolate or unduly insulate themselves from their followers.  Rather, they believe in, partner with and interact personally, appropriately and in timely ways with their followers; thereby, they help their followers grow and shape them into responsible people, wise decision-makers and genuine difference-makers.

B)  Being approachable and coachable.  

Excellent leaders create atmospheres of openness, by maintaining open-door-and-mind policies.  These include viewing feedback from others as a gift and being truly open to others’ influence.  Excellent leaders don’t “shoot messengers”; rather, they consider their messages as opportunities to grow.  Truly great leaders are approachable about and open to correction themselves…from those they lead and from an inner circle of Spirit-led peers…leaders and mentors who are preferably removed from leaders’ immediate leadership spheres, not yes-people, but people who are wise and know how to pray.  These special influencers are skilled and strong individuals who’ve been given freedom by leaders to speak Truth, and who expect respect from other leaders, with whom the leader prays to collectively hear the voice of God for wisdom in the decision-making process.

You can only lead as far as you grow.  And, you will grow only as far as you let yourself. Bob Burg and John David Mann        

C)  Leading by The Golden Rule. 

Servant leaders have hearts for people.  As I’ve said multiple times in this book, they’re relational at their cores.  Thus, they place high value on others and behave well toward them.  Their godly examples are their best mentoring and coaching influences.  Those assure healthy development and growth of people entrusted to their care.  Their followers truly enjoy being around and working with these special leaders.  That’s because these leaders possess high levels of Emotional Intelligence (what I refer to as Skill of Heart)—the competency that assures that they see and handle people according to The Golden Rule. 

Practicing this One Indispensable Rule of Truth includes being tactful toward and supporting followers, respecting their individuality and treating them individually.  It doesn’t mean compromising values and principles, or owning their problems or consequences of their bad choices.  It does mean trusting, extending grace and rather than cornering, fanging, nailing, shaming, demeaning and punishing people, it means picking them up when they fall and being gracious and giving them space, the benefit of the doubt and wise counsel.  These coaching and mentoring rather than punitive, actions create stronger followers and organizations and greater mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers.  That mutuality assures that confidential matters remain confidential.  It assures that power of position is used only in appropriate scenarios, privately and with godly sensitivity and wisdom.  And mutual respect and trust of followers builds group relationships that maximize harmony and unity, while minimizing conflicts and division. 

Coaching is the most important servant leadership element in helping people accomplish their goals. Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges  

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About the Author

Cecil O. Kemp Jr. is the award-winning author of 27 books and a sought after leadership mentor, life coach and keynote inspirational speaker.  Click here to learn more about him, and here to inquire about booking his services.  Below is the front cover of Cecil's new and critically acclaimed leadership book.  Click here to learn more and purchase your copy: