The Wise and Unwise Leader
By David Brandt Berg
A good executive is not a boss—he is a servant! Jesus wasn’t just trying to teach His disciples humility when He said, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). A good executive simply is not a dictator! He listens to his employees. When the top people don’t communicate with those under them, then of course they don’t understand them or their problems. When that happens, they’re headed for trouble!
Leaders at any level should listen to those under them. Leaders are responsible to make the final decision, but being a leader does not mean that you have all the ideas and do all the thinking and all the consulting just within yourself. A good executive will listen to others.
A good secretary knows more about her boss’ business than he does—and she should! He shouldn’t have to be involved with every little thing, but someone needs to be. A good boss understands that his secretary is more familiar with the extent of the work and the urgency of it, and he will respect that and usually take his secretary’s suggestions.
When it comes to plans and goals and motivation and other overall aspects of the work, the leaders are supposed to be good or they shouldn’t be the leaders. But when it comes to practical matters, leaders ought to listen to their helpers, because their helpers probably know more about it than they do. A good leader will listen to his workers’ suggestions, discuss, agree with them on a course of action, and then leave them alone to carry out the work, just checking now and then to see that they are producing and don’t make any serious mistakes. That’s really the job of the executive—to keep things moving. He should let his people recommend the work, initiate the work, and by all means carry out the work.
Nearly every king is surrounded by counselors that tell him what to do. Did you know that even God works that way? He calls in His chief counselors and angels and asks them, “What do you think we should do about this?” He listens to their suggestions and then has the wisdom to know who is right. If you don’t believe that, read 1 Kings 22:19-22 and Job 1:6-12. And God not only listens to His heavenly counselors, spirits, and angels, but don’t forget, He even listens to us and does what we ask Him to do!
If God Himself won’t do all the thinking for us, then who are we to try to make all the decisions, do all the thinking, give all the orders, and carry them all out besides? A leader just can’t operate alone!
Only a novice, only a brand-new, not-yet-dry-behind-the-ears junior executive tries to run everything and tell everybody what to do. They’ve never been in that position before and don’t know what to do or how to do it, but they pretend to as they sit on their thrones, giving out dictums. It’s a very foolish king or executive or leader who works that way.
A wise king, when he wants to get a certain thing done, calls in his counselors and listens to them, and then decides whose advice is best. And whom does the king appoint to carry out that job?—One of the others that had a different plan? Of course not! He gives the job to the one whose idea it was.
Any smart executive is going to pump people power! He is not going to try to be the pump, or the pump handle, or the water, or the bucket. He’s merely going to be the guiding hand that takes hold of the handle and pumps. All he does is keep the pump in motion.
A good leader will try to keep everybody happy, because everybody has a right to be happy and to do the work he likes to do and wants to do if he’s qualified.
If you’re going to be an effective team, every member must work together with all the other members—not just one, not just a few, not even the majority, but all. You must learn to work together, listen to each other, counsel together, agree together, decide together, and then work it out together.
As in the human body, you can’t say that you have no need of even one little member. You need every fingernail, every cell, as well as every organ and every limb (1 Corinthians 12:14-17). Every member is needed and everybody is important, from the lowliest to the mightiest, from the most insignificant to the seemingly most important. Everyone has his job, everyone is needed, and all must work together in unity and harmony and cooperation.
Talk together, discuss together, counsel together, agree together, decide together, do together, bear together, care together, grow together, work together, and enjoy the fruits of your labors together. Then and only then will you be a wise leader and a good executive.
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