I am a proponent of leading by example. It is a very important quality for me to have as a leader and to see it exemplified in the leadership I serve. Leading by example builds trusting relationships and is a catalyst for behavior change in those we are mentoring or leading. Practicing what we preach will show folks that we follow through and that we are stable, dependable, disciplined and committed to bettering others and ourselves. It shows we CARE. It builds trust and allows people to open up to us. It creates space to develop authentic relationships with depth, and it encourages transparency, discipline, and accountability in those relationships. This becomes influence, and with influence comes great responsibility. Don’t we want our teams to be emotionally stable and sound? Yes! Don’t we want our teams and leaders to be great examples? Yes! Well, it starts with us.
“Feelings are indicators, not dictators”. – Lysa Terkeurst
In order to lead by example, we need to manage our own emotions well. As it goes with our emotions, so it goes with the rest of our life… including our leadership. Let’s look at how choosing to manage our emotions well can influence those we lead.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Did you know this is a real possibility to obtain? Seriously. If we want to soar high on the wings of eagles and not grow weary and faint…we can. It is simply a state of mind. Our minds are a battlefield peppered with toxic thoughts daily; the key is to replace these toxic thoughts with healthy ones. It is a choice not a given. And no, this is not easy for anyone! The good news is that it is a learned behavior that comes more naturally with repetition. Choosing to think positively is one of the first steps to improving our emotional health and with that, our influence as a leader will start to proliferate.
What does your battlefield look like right now? Are you winning the war?
Life is comprised of repeating battles between “Davids” and “Goliaths”. Don’t know the story? Check out 1 Samuel 17. How we handle the giants that continually pop up in our lives is a true reflection of our current state of emotional health. Here is a test:
Do you look at the slingshot in your hand and say, “But, I only have a slingshot. This guy is huge! This isn’t going to work. I can’t win this battle. It isn’t enough.”
Do you look at the slingshot in your hand and say, “This is awesome! I have a slingshot. Thank you God for this slingshot. Lets take this giant down.”
We know that we are leading confidently with good emotional health when we respond with the second answer. A great mentor of mine once said to me during a restless and frustrating season, “Always look to the future and into a place of abundance instead of the deficit you are facing.”
Have you ever looked around you and said, “I don’t have enough support” or “I don’t have the resources I need to do this job?” In each challenge we are faced with, it is imperative that we focus our attention to what we do have, who our resources are and what is within our control to change. We do not want to succumb to the giant of deficit but instead fight it with even the smallest slingshot we have, and this can take great faith! The choice to model an attitude of resourcefulness, confidence and abundance will build trust in your team and help them to see possibilities, not problems. When we see possibility, performance improves and productivity increases. Why? Possibility is a great motivator.
Good leaders are always looking to raise up their replacement and help others grow. In building teams and developing other leaders, we should look for individuals who can wield the slingshot and find their own stones. Our ability to think positively in the face of giants and look at what tools we do have and what we can change, is the measurement of an emotionally intelligent leader. That is actually a unique quality in individuals; therefore, it is a highly valued quality. If you find someone like that, keep them close. Invest in them. They have leadership potential and will be a great asset to you and your team.
In order to stay emotionally healthy over the long-term, we must:
- Face our fears and conquer them
- Be proactive not reactive
- Stay focused
- Be flexible
- Have fun along the way
- Refuse to give up on our dreams
- Choose a spirit of optimism
- Use stumbling blocks as stepping stones
When we are emotionally healthy: we respond better, empower others, communicate more effectively, and motivate those around us. Emotionally healthy leaders model their culture, values and beliefs for their team. Choose to take the reins and develop good emotional health. I use the word “choose” because it isn’t always the natural response and our feelings don’t often align with what is considered good emotional health. Remember, you are the Executive Director of your life. Appreciate your process, be confident in your vision and love who you are becoming!
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
How am I modeling the expectations I have set for others?
How do I respond in negative or high-stress situations?
In what areas of my leadership do I need to develop better emotional health?
How am I modeling the culture of my organization or my values?
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