“Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” — Proverbs 15:22
Every leader needs wise advisors. One of the first things the President of the United States does after his election is establish a cabinet of “wise counselors.” To be a healthy leader, we need to seek out others for personal advice as well as counsel on critical decisions. No leader, no matter how powerful the position, knows all the answers to all the issues he or she will face. In fact, one of the most critical decisions any leader will make is whom they select to help them lead.
Pride or even insecurity can be a barrier to seeking advice. Leaders need to guard against both. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek out the help of others; it’s a sign of strength. Ultimately, a leader must make the call, but seeking input from others will help pave the way for success.
I’ve been blessed to have many counselors and advisers in my life. The first I recall was my eighth-grade teacher, Mr. Rose. One day, he asked me to stay after class and gave me great counsel that I still lean on today. Basically, he advised me to be careful not to take on too much, which is an issue I battle. Mr. Rose pointed out several leadership roles I had including directing the school play (which I had written), leading two school clubs, and hosting the parent open house! Because Mr. Rose truly cared about me, I received his counsel and it has made a difference in my life.
Here are a few other nuggets of wisdom I have received from others who have greatly influenced my leadership:
1. The flip side of your strength is your weakness.
Always be aware of both and put people around you to help sharpen your strengths and fill the gaps in your weaknesses.
2. Never neglect your family.
Remember that your family will care for you when you are old, not the people you work with. Live accordingly.
3. Take a family vacation every year.
No matter the cost, it’s important to get away, rest, and recharge with the ones you love. It will be a great investment in your future.
4. Understand your work is people.
Whatever else you are doing comes second. Take the time to know, love, and invest in the people you lead and work alongside.
5. Remember your life is like a candy bar.
There are only so many bites, so live well. Enjoy and savor your relationships, work, and ministry.
6. Be yourself.
When I took the position of president of B&H Publishing, a dear friend prayed over me. Her words of advice have helped me be a better leader: “God has put you in this role and always remember it is because of who you are, not who you will become. Be yourself and use the gifts God has already given you. Never try to be someone other than you.”
God’s Word is a great place of leadership wisdom and counsel. Here are a few that stand out for me:
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1: 2-4).
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
I would love to hear some key nuggets of wisdom you have received or maybe a verse of Scripture that guides your leadership. Please share in the comments.