A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to ride along with our Chief of Police on a patrol day. He was gracious enough to take me around to meet several leaders in our city. Our chief is an active member in our church and I learned a lot from him about what it means to be a leader.
- CEOs and thankless grinders
- Vice-Presidents and salesmen
- Mid-level managers and public officials
- Stay at home moms and night shift workers
I left with these 2 takeaways that are already helping me lead better as a pastor. No matter what leadership capacity you currently find yourself in they can help you too.
1. Good leaders genuinely care for all people.
One thing that struck me as I spent the day in conversation with our chief was how much he genuinely cared for people that you and I might classify as scumbags. I half jokingly told him I fully expected to be apart of a high speed chase and then get to apprehend a fugitive in a foot chase. After all, I saw an extra bulletproof vest in the back so naturally I assumed that was for me when the inevitable foot pursuit went down. It was just a matter of time, right?
Sadly, the chase never happened, which I guess is a good thing. I joked with our chief that I was faster than him so it was a good thing he had me along. He then kindly reminded me just how good he was at catching bad guys. Then it got crazy. He proceeded to tell me about some of the worst guys he’s apprehended but he did it with such a deep sense of compassion for them, even in the midst of knowing justice was what they needed most. This just didn’t make sense to me. Here’s a guy who’s very life is threatened far too often by stupid people with nothing better to do and he speaks about them as people who need justice, yes, but also compassion.
Good leaders care about all people. They want the best for them despite past or even present circumstances.
2. Good leaders keep proper perspective.
As we rode around throughout the day, several people were pulled over for minor infractions. I could tell that my partner in crime prevention was much more concerned with the potential for a routine traffic stop to turn into something much bigger a speeding violation. The driver could have been driving illegally, under the influence, or be in possession of illegal substances, etc. Our chief has served in some pretty intense scenarios and after he got back in the car after issuing a warning he said , “This is really important…but I’m more interested in arresting the really bad guys.”
Our chief does what all leaders need to do in their own way; keep the major things major and the minor things minor. Sometimes leaders can get caught up on focusing too much on the little things. Maybe the little things are details that need to be shared with other team members or simply aspects of your job/life that need to be thought through quickly and then moved past. Other times little things can be aspects of your own performance that are tempting to dwell on far too much to be constructive. No matter the reason, focusing on the little things too much can really hamper your leadership potential.
The flip side is true as well. Sometimes leaders can focus solely on the big things, the major things, the big picture. Sometimes these leaders can be hard for others to follow because it can be perceived that attention to the little things is just not that important. Remember, any big picture vision only becomes a reality after careful attention has been paid to the little things and series of tasks that will help bring it to fruition. While it is definitely important for leaders to keep their eyes on the big picture, they do so at their own peril if they forsake the details and people that help make their vision happen.
Question: What leadership lessons are you learning?