I rarely host guest posts, but I thought this one from Nicholas Macdonald was worth making an exception for.

Leadership books can be complicated, giving loads of leadership principles that can leave leaders feeling bogged down and helpless. While these books are helpful additions to any leader’s library, sometimes it’s nice to hear leadership laws boiled down to the essentials. What does it look like on a daily basis to be an effective leader?

That’s why I’ve boiled hundreds of leadership books and articles down to what I call the “Leadership Rhythm.” Every leadership tidbit I’ve found falls under one of these sub-headings, and when I find something useful, I tuck it under one of them. Invest in these four rhythms on a daily basis, and you’ll keep yourself doing what leaders are supposed to do while magnetically attracting followers along the way:

1. Direction. Leaders, first and foremost, know where they’re going. In a world lost in apathy, we gladly submit ourselves to someone who’s carved a clear picture of the future, and resolutely sets a steel face toward that end. It doesn’t matter if it’s building a Fortune 500 company, or WWII – people flock to those who know exactly where they’re going:

  • Do you have clear, written goals in your personal and corporate life?
  • Do you embrace core values in your own life and in your organization?
  • Do you keep appointments, accomplish tasks on time, and keep your project/action lists updated?
  • Do you regularly spend time reading, studying and memorizing the Bible for spiritual direction?
  • Do you regularly seek out wisdom from others in your field?

2. Connection. The new IQ is EQ (Emotional Quotient), and the reason is: people with IQ know what to do, but people with EQ get things done. Leadership is all about relationships. If you can’t connect, you can’t lead. Personally, I’ve come up with a “relationship flow” that I try to incorporate into my daily life, that looks something like this:

  • Greet – Do you look people in the eye, smile, and use their name when you see them?
  • Listen – Do you ask good, conversation-geared open-ended questions? Do you regularly re-articulate what others say in your own words?
  • Affirm – Do you regularly affirm people’s positive qualities and accomplishments, publicly and privately?
  • Memory – Do you remember people’s names, goals, and prayer needs?
  • Sharing – In all of your tasks, connections and activities are you constantly thinking, “Who else can benefit from this?”
  •  Asking – Do you know people’s strengths, and regularly invite them to use those strengths?
  • Reconciling – Do you honestly apologize when you make a withdrawal from a relationship, or do you make excuses?

3. Expression. Great leaders don’t just have a clear picture of the future in their heads – they paint it in the most compelling way imaginable. If you can’t express your vision creatively and powerfully, all the direction/connection in the world won’t induce followers, just friends (which are great!)

  • Do you regularly spend time writing out your thoughts on topics, issues and problems?
  • Do you spend time learning expression through literature, non-fiction and great speakers?
  • Do you connect through social media (twitter, facebook, blogging)?
  • Do you make strategic time to communicate to your vision to your organization at least once a month?
  • Do you have a personal journal in which you express your thoughts/feelings about life?

4. Energy. Finally, for the above three components to work, a leader needs incredible drive and energy. I think of celebrities like Robin Williams and Will Smith – these guys don’t necessarily give us a clear vision of the future, but their pure energy makes them magnets for millions

  • Do you regularly exercise?
  • Do you know how much sleep your body needs, and carve out time for it?
  • Do you understand how your personality is energized (introvert/extrovert, etc.)?
  • Do take at least one day off a week to find energy for the rest of the week?
  • Do you know your body’s diet needs for maximum energy?
  • Do you regularly retreat to find energizing beauty in nature, literature, music, movies, art, etc.?

Take some time today to evaluate which areas are weak and strong. Then, plan some strategic time tomorrow to carve out for each rhythm. Not only will you become a more effective leader, but at the end of the day you’ll discover a happier, healthier you.

Nicholas McDonald is passionate about creatively communicating timeless truth. You can visit his daily blog, www.scribblepreach.com, learn about himhere, or connect with him on Twitter @NicholasMcD

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  • http://www.scribblepreach.com Nicholas McDonald

    Thanks for hosting, Dr. Murray. Glad to have the opportunity to interact with your community here.

  • http://classicalquest.com Adriana

    Wow. This post is teeming with excellent advice. Thank you!

    • http://www.scribblepreach.com Nicholas McDonald

      Thanks, Adriana.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com Tim

    Nick, I hit many of the things in each of the four categories fairly regularly, but not all of them all the time. What’s your take on how much the most effective leaders in history accomplished the items on the lists? I’d also be interested in your thoughts on the effective leader and the leading of the Holy Spirit.


    • http://www.scribblepreach.com Nicholas McDonald

      Both great questions, Tim – both deserving blog posts of their own. On the first, I think it looks different for everybody. On the second, I think it looks different for everybody.

      So – I think these things are all important for every leader, but I thin everyone hashes them out differently. I like to hit on them daily.

      I also think that these leave room for the leading of the Spirit in moment by moment decisions – God’s Spirit blesses forethought, I think, so long as we don’t hold it tightly and act like we can control the future.

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