by Adrian Pantonial
One night while going home from a long day’s work, I pondered about the influence I’m making in the people around me: my co-workers, friends and especially my family. My rumination may have been triggered by the book I’m currently reading [Small Changes, BIG Results by Jerry Foster]. Definitely, I want my life to count and I want people to remember me in a way that honors the legacy I would have left behind someday. Consciously, I live my life and conscientiously in the way I deal with people, I try my best to apply the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you.” Though I’ve made a lot of blunders and despite a lot of distractions along the way, by God’s grace I persevere in my pursuit to live a meaningful life.
I want to be able to share my knowledge, skills, passion and vision in life to others. I love it when I see eyes gleaming as I exert effort to encourage them while hopefully growing to be a great leader. I do not want to pretend to be an expert on this matter but here’s a list of my own definition for “Great Leaders” based from experience and the influence of other people around me.
Great leaders, for me, are:
1. Enthusiastic Follower—I strongly believe that great jobs cannot be done without great enthusiasm. Great leaders have conviction and they stand by it even if they become unpopular in the midst of the crowd.
2. Voracious Reader –The habit of reading is what I want to share with my siblings. At home, my books are stuck in a cabinet and I would often encourage them to read so they can become great leaders eventually. I remember back in high school days collecting quotes and poetry of famous people from books, newspapers, street signs, literature in the library and everywhere else. Reading them inspires me–as if my passion to succeed and love for life is rejuvenated every time I devour such stuff.
3. Generous Giver–Before I became a Christian, I already have an understanding of what generosity is but not until I experienced it first-hand from good people in church do I really appreciate the impact it has on a person. I am grateful to have been blessed by friends and Pastors who gave their time despite their hectic schedule, even shared their time, wisdom and material resources such as books, worship CDs, teaching materials, neckties etc. It’s in receiving generosity from these people did I learn giving generosity to others.
4. Perpetual Beginner–I believe that no matter how hard we try to achieve perfection in areas of relationships, skills and behavior, we cannot achieve it here on earth because we live in an imperfect world with equally imperfect people. No one attains perfection here but we can progress as we do our daily routines and learn new stuff though stumbling and all. Trusting that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion, great leaders keep pressing on doing the things they ought to do even with much effort. They try to learn new things, do old things in a new way–to improve their lives and those around them. In times when we they are at their wits’ end, God’s grace will be there to make them strong when they are weak.
5. Active Listener–Who wants to engage in a conversation with a person who always talks and never listen? I don’t. An active listener for me is one who cares about what the other person is thinking even without words being expressed. They are people who show you they hear you through their facial expression or tone of voice and not only focus on their next statement or question. Great leaders laugh and even shed a tear with you when the situation calls for it and by that, their relationship with you grow stronger.
6. Effective Speaker—Not necessarily impeccable in speech but one who constantly develops his communication skills. He is the one who anticipates what his listener hopes to learn from him and so speaks not only from his heart but also to the heart of his audience.
7. Courageous Risk-taker—Courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward despite it. Each one of us has and will face difficult situations in our lives when we’re not sure what to do and how to respond to the present challenge. Great leaders don’t get stuck in that phase too long. They avoid “analysis paralysis”—not being able to do anything because of too much analyzing so they take calculated risk knowing that if ever they commit a mistake by shooting for the stars, at least they’ll land in the moon. They’re also willing to rise up each time they fall and that’s where their greatest glory lie.
8. Wise spender—they know where it is appropriate to spend their money and time even as they know who to spend it with. They budget wisely and they honor The One who gives it all by the way they manage their resources while enjoying whatever they have now and not focusing on what they lack.
9. Committed lover—Great leaders go the extra mile to show that they care about people. They live out the truth in the saying: “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” They make it a priority to spend quality time with their family and loved ones so they don’t quit too soon when arguments get in the way. They try to find a way to resolve it the best way they can and by the grace of God. For them, love is not only feeling but also a decision—a commitment. Through the lives of great leaders around me being committed in improving their relationships, I’ve seen that having a family isn’t only mere challenge, burden or responsibility but it can be a great source of joy and a way of advancing God’s kingdom by raising up next generation leaders.
10. Lifetime learner—There’s so much to learn about life. People I look up to continue to gain more knowledge and with a sense of adventure for new experiences.
Great leaders are only human so let’s put our high expectations in proper perspective. John Maxwell wrote, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Certainly, the path to becoming a great leader is one filled with sacrifices and delayed gratification–it seems to be a tedious, painful process. Thank God for a few good men and women who count the cost and are willing to pay the price. The combination of our self-discipline, accomplishments, character [though not always unblemished] plus their arresting–sometimes funny–eccentrities causes our lives to advance–his ethical and work values lifted higher leading us a little closer to the attainment of Christ’s work of transformation.