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  • Jordan Kerner

How To Lead When… You’re The Leader

Leadership is Service, Not Heroism

The ability to lead well is no easy task. I believe many of us have ambitions and aspirations of leading teams to massive successes and victories, to stake our claim as heroes and save the day. This is the first crucial mistake, and one that I can almost 100% guarantee leads to the massive failures of those currently leading. You are not the hero. I’ve talked about this before, and it’s not an idea new under the sun. Socrates wrote about this thousands of years ago; Donald Miller with StoryBrand is capitalizing on the ingenious reality of “service is not heroism.” That was so good I want to write it again, “service is not heroism.” Leadership is service, first. Some may try and make the argument that they are one in the same. Certainly, leaders can become heroes. They can receive massive glory and recognition, but this is merely a byproduct of leadership done well. If your sole ambition to lead is for the glory, I can promise you that day will never come. So, what are some key elements of how to lead well when you’re the leader? Leadership, done well, boils down to two central points, know-how (preparedness) and the ability to consistently pursue mutual profitability.

Know Thyself

Address what you need to know. First, you have to know yourself and ask why you are leading. Check your motivations and your convictions right away before accepting any leadership role. If you cannot honestly answer without any form of self-recognition, you may want to think about another role. Next, know how to sacrifice, to be generous, and how to respect all. Lastly, have a constant pursuit of knowledge. The best way to be prepared is to always seek knowledge, wisdom, and council from resources made to you. Consider mutual profitability (to learn more about this idea click “mutual profitability”). As a strong leader, you need to be able to balance the art of managing the concerns of your stakeholders, your clients, your employees, and your bottom line. The best leaders in the world are those that can be fiscally responsible as well as employee and customer driven. A secret to this is never making the bottom line the determining factor in decision-making.

The Conductor

Lastly, to be a great leader you have to have the ability to build great teams,[1] teams that are smarter than you and more talented than you; and you have to not only be okay with this but serve as an ambassador of the wisdom your team possesses. As a leader, you need to exercise good judgement. You must find the people that will have the balance of great intuition, experience, and the ability to work within a team.

Now, if all of this seems simple enough and are qualities you possess with a drive to match, you might have a chance at being a successful leader. Don’t make the mistake of portraying yourself as the savior, the mistake of thinking once you get the office with a view that you’ve now “made it” and that it’s smooth sailing from here. Au contraire, my sailor friend, be ready for rough waters ahead. The rough waters, though, aren’t what should keep you up at night. What should keep you up at night is whether or not you feel confident in the ability to lead through stormy seas, in your preparedness. What should keep you up at night is the thought and consequences of what may happen if you fail, if you weren’t prepared, if you couldn’t lead with composure, grace, and judgement through tough times. That may have been a little dramatic, I’ll admit, but the meaning is valid. Leading is a great responsibility and your decisions can have a massive impact. It’s imperative to have the right motives and intentions. To be a great leader, you must be able to orchestrate a team, orchestrate a mission, and orchestrate “togethered action.”


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