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Last week I had the privilege of going away with our student leadership team for a couple of days in team building and leadership development. We had a great time away and it was great to see students from different year groups mixing and getting to know each other.
In amongst the aqua golf, hot laps of Mount Panorama (in the PCS bus), bushwalking and footy we heard some great content around leadership, culture and influence. It certainly got me thinking again about one of my favourite leadership quotes by John Maxwell; leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. This is something I have wrestled with in my own leadership journey, and something I have challenged our students to wrestle with. What is true leadership; do you need a badge or a qualification to exhibit it?
I had the great thrill this week of finally graduating with my Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. Those close to me will know that unlike others who power through a Masters in two years or so, mine took me six and a half years! I’m a little embarrassed to say that, however the reality of life and work sometimes makes extra study challenging, as I’m sure some of you can relate!
It was a lot of fun going to the ceremony, wearing all the academic regalia and being part of the pomp and ceremony. Having my family there was also really special, as they have been part of the whole journey, the good, the bad and the ugly! As we were driving home from Sydney, I again pondered those same ideas around leadership, influence and what I learn from the life of Jesus in this space.
I think the life of Jesus supports the idea that true leadership is measured by influence. All of us will influence others, it’s just a matter of how. Influence doesn’t require a qualification, a badge, or an elected position, it just happens, whether we are aware of it or not. The real question is, what kind of influence are we having on others?
Jesus wasn’t elected into a political office, he wasn’t the mayor, university lecturer or even an SRC rep! He didn’t even write a book! However the life of Jesus turned the whole world upside down, and we are still talking about it over 2000 years later! The influence Jesus had on those around him was undeniable. His teaching, and his example and his unwavering love for those in need spoke in volumes. If Jesus had simply written his own book on leadership or recorded a podcast series, there is no way it would have had the same impact as him living out his teaching and letting his example and influence be his legacy.
Whilst formal leadership positions and qualifications are important, they are by no means the defining element of a strong leader. As much as I have enjoyed achieving my Masters degree, it does not guarantee that I’ll be a better principal, just one that has an additional qualification! What I take great encouragement from is the same thing that all of us should; leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not about titles or qualifications, it’s about a life of example. All of us have the capacity to exhibit strong leadership, whether it’s to 5 or 5000.
I am encouraged to know that to be a good leader I don’t have to be the most qualified, the smartest or the most charismatic. Like all of us, I just have to be committed to living a life of authenticity that seeks to be a positive influence on those around me, and do whatever is required of me to the best of my ability. As I finish writing this I’ll leave you to ponder the same questions I do; what sort of influence are you on others and what will your legacy be?
Have a great week and be a blessing to someone who needs it!