As I work on my manuscript for my third book (yes, I’m still amazed myself) Successful Leaders of the Bible, I’ve been reading some of the accounts of Biblical leaders and focusing on the qualities that either made them outstanding leaders–or not. I’ve had several bosses in my career. Many were outstanding and only a few (a very few) were not. One taught me first hand how awful an unchecked ego looked (and I made note of this even as a very young woman who had no idea which direction my career would go in…but I remember telling myself: keep your ego in check.) Another boss taught me the beauty of a strong work ethic. He often pushed me (and himself) to beat deadlines. Why? So we could review the work in plenty of time to make any changes, and then we could play (his words, not mine). Yes, he believed in working hard (and he worked even harder than he requested of me) and he believed in celebrating hard work by chilling and having fun when the work was done. He was hands down one of my favorite people to work with and an early influence on my career. (He also picked me up each morning during the first 3 months of my first job because I did not have a car yet; real bosses can be friendly to their charges!)
But, today another boss–my last boss–stands out in my mind; partly because I got to grab coffee with her yesterday at a conference, but more importantly because of some courageous words she imparted. During my performance review at least 4 years ago, we had a very frank conversation (she specializes in being frank and I appreciate that!) While my performance was up to par and probably even exceeded expectations in some areas and my job was as “secure” as she (or anyone) could project, she told me: with your gifts and skills, I’d always be looking for a job.
I was startled. Those were not the words I expected to hear during my good performance appraisal, but she was sharing what she saw in me–even on days when I didn’t see these gifts and skills in myself. She was not being selfish and trying to keep my skills only for herself or the company she represented. She was using her God-given gift of true leadership and pouring out her heart and her thoughts to me.
I worked with her for another 2 years–sometimes confused about my next move (I even cried to while sharing this news with a few friends). During those 2 years, my smart boss helped me develop projects that did challenge me and utilize more of my skills (in fact during one project that I actually wrote when I normally only acquired other writers’ projects, I remember saying: I love to write, I should do this more). And some how in the midst of those two years, I got the confidence I needed to begin Esteem Publishing, where I edit, consult, ghost write, and do so much more, including write and market my very own book series.
I’m grateful and thankful for a strong, unselfish, caring and trusting boss, who is also a friend. What qualities do you think make a great leader?