If you think you are leading and yet no one is following, you are just taking a walk.
Emotional intelligence is a key characteristic in any leadership role. Understanding people and understanding the nuanced ways to see whether or not people are following your leadership is a critical role in the ministry. A leader needs to have that intuitive, gut-level sense of whether people are with you or whether they are simply tolerating you. Do people want to hear from you? Do they ask with excitement and anticipation for what is coming up next in your ministry area? Or are people consistently questioning what you are doing, second guessing and criticizing your role. Just because you are in a leadership position does not mean that you are a leader. Positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership. Emotional leadership and leading from a position of charisma and authenticity is a higher, more effective form of leadership. If you think that simply because of your role people are going to follow you, you are going to be sorely mistaken.
Anybody can be hired, but few can truly lead. There have been times when I have been self-deceived into thinking that I was leading in such a way that people were hanging on my every word and anticipating my next move. Unfortunately, I was sorely mistaken. I did not have the type of sharp emotional intelligence to see that I had lost some edge. Just because I have successfully lead in the past does not mean that people are going to follow me tomorrow. The last thing I want to do as a leader is to seek to take on the next hill, reach the top, and realize that I am completely alone.
Gather a team of people around you who are willing to share the honest truth with you. I once had a leader in my ministry who was with me for over 10 years. We had developed such a fantastic relationship that she was willing to tell me where I was missing the mark, and when people were grumbling or questioning what we were doing as a ministry. That is invaluable to a leader. Do you have trusted people who will let you know that you are wearing the Emperor’s Clothes? You know the story, right? The emperor had such a poor understanding of himself that he found himself naked in front of his entire court and nobody had the heart to tell him. Do you have someone around you who is willing to share the uncomfortable truth? Do you have somebody who will let you know when you are not being followed?
We as leaders can often become self-deceived in our opinions about our leadership abilities. We need that person whispering into our ear a different perspective, and willing to share that uncomfortable truth. If you think you are leading but no one is following, you are just taking a walk.