One of the first things you learn about leadership is how to encourage those following you. The first thing those who are following can learn is how to encourage the one who is leading. Leaders need encouragement too. Leaders make numerous decisions that go through a variety of second-guessing questions. Is what I’m doing pleasing God? Is it moving the church or organization forward in vision? How is this going to affect the staff and volunteers? How will the other people working toward the vision view this decision? With all this second-guessing, leaders need people who they know are in their corner cheering them on and P.U.S.H.[ing] them forward.
Partner with Them
Leadership can be lonely, so they need people around them who will Partner with them. Partnering with a leader is more than a public statement of consensus. Partnering with our leaders requires praying for them, supporting them to others, and gathering and presenting information and ideas in private that will propel them forward in public. When we partner with our leaders they know they are not alone. They know that they have a group of people they can trust to walk alongside them when ideas are great and when they don’t work out so well. Partnering with your leader insists that if they fall during a marathon you will be on the sideline cheering them on to get back up.
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Understand What They are Going to Do Next
We can give our leaders a push forward by Understanding what they are going to do next. This is a skill that is learned over time as we learn our leaders. We can understand where our leaders are going next by watching where their personal lives are now. If your leader is pregnant or has a pregnant wife, you can prepare for where their personal mindset will be in a few months just by caring about where their personal life is right now. If your leader has an ailing parent they are caring for, you can understand where their personal ministry passions might be next by the season they are going through right now. Listening to our leaders and understanding our leaders are two different dynamics. The understanding dynamic lends support when there are no words to listen to.
Support Them in Their Current Decisions
While we can support our leaders for where they are going by understanding where they are now, we have to be willing to Support them in their current decisions now. While I’m not talking about supporting decision that are unethical or immoral, we won’t always agree on every decision even if it is ethical and moral. This is where trust comes in. Support for a leader means trusting the heart of the leader even when you don’t agree with their methodology. It supports the leader in public, even if you must disagree in private. It provides support that is unwavering and the leader can be sure of. This is especially important if the leader is doubting their own decision and saying, “I’m not sure how this will turn out but I am sure this is the way we should take.”
Even with partnering with our leaders, understanding where they are as a glimpse to where they are going, and supporting them even in tough decisions, humility is the biggest push that any leader can receive from their team. Humility takes the back seat so that your leader can take the side seat while God is driving the car. Humility goes a long way to providing encouragement. Humility looks beyond what we ourselves might know, looks over the mistakes the leader might have made in the past, and still says we are in this together.
While leaders enjoy being pushed and cheered on, just like with our other teammates, leaders appreciate a sincere “Thank you!” While no leader is perfect, look for opportunities to publicly thank them for things they have done well for your team or even for you personally. While it is their job to lead your team, a “thank you” lets them know that the job does not go unnoticed by those they are trying to lead.
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