Where do you get your input?...

… and what do you do with it?

I sometimes imagine my leadership in terms of water: a fluid resource that flows freely, is essential to life, and can be affected by many other factors.

Following that mental image takes me to several connected thoughts about leadership.

Firstly, it matters where the source(s) are. Fresh water is precious, and clean sources can be hard to find. Such springs of life must be protected. Similarly with leadership. We all need fresh leadership input to fill our “tanks” and give us increased capacity to offer leadership to others. It is a vital discipline for any leader to seek and find such sources: books, blogs, conferences, courses, mentors, coaches, and peers. It is also vital that we exercise due diligence in sourcing this input wisely. Not every input is valuable for your leadership. Is it true? Is it adding to your capacity to lead? Is it stretching you in ways you need to be stretched? Or is it diluting your focus and overloading you?

Secondly, we must guard the purity of our reserves. A reservoir is not the place for a sewer outfall. You don’t want lead in your water pipes. For the leader, contamination can come from unresolved interpersonal conflicts, overwork and burnout, failure to build a healthy team, lack of self-awareness, undue focus on social media or the constant news cycle, and many other sources. Each has a cumulative poisonous effect on a leader’s capacity to lead. We can address these issues by balancing authority with accountability: find someone who will tell you the truth while helping you to flourish as a leader. Ask them to join you in removing any toxic contaminants in your leadership reserves. Such people are rare, but they are there! Pay someone if you have to!

Thirdly and finally, your leadership must be more than just input and purification. There has to be an output. In the nation of Israel there are two large bodies of water: the Sea of Galilee is fed by the rivers from the northern hills, and flows out into the River Jordan. This sea is full of life. The other inland sea is fed by the River Jordan, but has no outflow. It is called the Dead Sea! The application to leadership is straightforward; input without output equals stay-put. I am only a leader if I am raising up other leaders. (See my earlier post on Investing Your Leadership).

So where do you get your input? I suggest you take an inventory of your leadership inputs as Fall begins. Consider where adjustments would be beneficial. Maybe you can benefit from increased input in this season. Is there a need for some ‘water purification’ in your leadership reserves? Who can you ask to help you?

And what are you doing with it? Where are you investing your leadership capacity? Who or what benefits? We need you to be at full leadership capacity; thanks for choosing to invest in your leadership.