To whom do you look to as your leadership role model? Perhaps you’ve studied the leadership styles of Jack Welch, former chairman of GE or Doug Daft, chairman at Coca Cola, or Leo Mullins at Delta or Bob Nardelli at Home Depot. If you have, you are not alone.
Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A says that in his efforts to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, he like many of us, spent a great deal of time studying these corporate success stories. Cathy says, “All of us need to stay relevant to the world in which we live. When the rate of external change exceeds the rate of internal change, disaster is imminent and we lose a sense of relevance with the organization that we are in.”
On April 29, 2002, Cathy found a new perspective on leadership and relevance in his Christian faith as a result of a brush fire accident in which he suffered first- and second-degree burns. After his son Ross poured five gallons of gasoline onto a brush pile, Cathy struck a match. The vapors ignited. Seconds after being engulfed in a wall of flame, Dan Cathy was on the ground with his face in the grass and a searing pain spreading through his arms.
Writing about the accident, he said, “I lit that pile of brush with fresh gasoline when the fumes were all around me. It could have been not only permanently tragic for me, but also for my son, Ross. But God used this experience to take me into waters; just deep enough to receive a rich blessing from the experience, but not so deep that I was of no use to others.''
While in the hospital, as a nice gesture someone sent Cathy an audio copy of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His wife brought in a boom box and for the next ten days he listened about what the Bible had to say about the life of Jesus. As a result, he experienced a deep conviction over the way he spent his time trying to stay “relevant” by studying the corporate giants instead of listening to what Jesus has to say. He asked himself, “Is He really my leadership model and does He stand up to the others that are out there?”
Ken Blanchard is recognized as a premier thinker and writer on leadership, he has authored or co-authored more than thirty five books including The One Minute Manager, Raving Fans and Gung Ho! Ken lifts Jesus up as the greatest leadership role model and co-founded Lead Like Jesus in 1999 whose mission is “to glorify God by inspiring and equipping people to lead like Jesus.”
Blanchard says, “I realized that Christians have more in Jesus than just a great spiritual leader: we have a practical and effective leadership model for all organizations, for all people, for all situations. The more I read the Bible, the more I realized that Jesus did everything I ever taught or wrote about over the years and He did it perfectly. He is simply the greatest leadership model for all time.”
Setting the spiritual component aside, what kind of leadership role model is Jesus?
As a leader, Jesus set clear goals and motivated His followers to the degree that they left their homes, families and jobs to walk with Him. He altered His leadership style as necessary to meet the needs of those He influenced (situational leadership). He always told the truth, stood up for what He believed, and demonstrated and taught the principles of servant leadership. He always has the best interest of His followers in mind and equips them for success. He touched the lives of many and left us a legacy that continues to have a positive impact on all those who believe in Him. Jesus truly is the greatest leadership role model for all time.