The Transparent Leader

It takes time to prove oneself.  I wish I could cling to the idea that I serve God, not man, denying the need to prove myself… to be a people-pleaser.  I don’t mean not loving and serving the church, but rather not being consumed with what others think or conjure up in their minds based on their own insecurities.  What if I could fully embrace my leadership without fear of failure to His people and to Him?

I remember the early years…

I walked on egg-shells, concerned that the glass walls that encompassed my every move and the moves of my family would be shattered.  I allowed the church microscope to reign.

I can now say that I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin.  I am embracing my personality and finding that people are more receptive to me as a leader when my flaws, imperfections, and heart are more transparent.  The fear is subsiding, not gone, but subsiding.  My confidence in Christ has grown, the baggage of failure from the past has been dealt with, and I am ready to press on.

— anonymous

Where did we ever get the idea that leaders had to be perfect?

Nearly every leader I talk to starts out with a story like this one.  We begin our leadership journeys with this fear of potential failure, of the need to prove our worth, of the fear of being found out for the broken, fragile humans that we are.

This story was from a young leader and friend who was sharing her heart and journey with me via email.  She graciously agreed to allow me to share this portion of her email because I felt like she represented what so many of us feel.

I wonder how much time and influence we waste when we’re so wrapped up in these fears?

I wonder how much better we could lead if we were comfortable leading from a place of transparency and authenticity right from the start?

Have you been there too?

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  • Richard May 24, 2011  

    Easier said than done, right? One might expect transparency in a church-work environment because there’s safety from being judged and ultimately dismissed. It’s the secular workplace that’s mean, evil and can’t wait to toss someone out of a position because there’s always a next in line.

    Unfortunately, the workplace whether Christian or non-Christian is not always welcoming of open dialogue, transparency and questioning. And the reality is that people can lose their jobs as result of being so open.

    I believe we do waste a lot of time being fearful of “the man” or “the system” and finding the right work environment is a good place to start. But when a person must take a job that isn’t ideal, there’s a time for transparency and a time to be guarded.

    Two things that would help one to be transparent:
    1) No financial obligation
    2) A clear expectation of transparency
    3) Options

    Okay, so that’s three. The 3rd one came as a surprise.

  • Morgan MacGavin May 24, 2011  

    Wow, really excellent email from your friend, as well as your thoughts. As I have been learning to lead, I find myself looking back quite often and realizing that my fears not only prevented me from being the best leader, but also kept me from fully experiencing some of God’s most brilliant intricateness. Many people are natural born leaders. But we all have to learn and grow to some degree. I think finding that comfort and transparency you mentioned starts small with a single person, and through their leadership, another will begin to flourish. It’s definitely a blessing when other leaders share their gifts and things they have learned through letting go of their own fears.