Great leaders lead from the inside out. – Lee Colan
Written By Guest Blogger: Dr. Dira D. Harris
In other words, “Leading with Faith” is not about who we say that we are, it is about who we SHOW that we are. Leading with faith is an outward display of leadership determined by an inward development of character. We have all heard character identified as those things we do when no one is watching. Character is rooted in our integrity or moral compass. Webster’s dictionary defines integrity as a state of “wholeness.” The question then becomes: how can we lead, if we ourselves are not whole? The answer, though rhetorical, is we cannot! Well, at least not effectively.
Effectively, leading with faith requires that we are first, whole. Wholeness doesn’t mean that we are perfect; it simply means that we have clear understanding of who we are in our hearts. This identification is guided by a clear set of standards, values, and beliefs that form the principles of our leadership and even more importantly, our humanity. When leading with faith, our principles become the central compass of determining our whole selves. These are the doctrines we live by. Thus, we can with integrity, hold those we lead accountable to as well.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
When we have guiding principles, it makes it much easier for us to be consistent and impactful when making leadership decisions. This idea of guiding principles that determine our consistent actions as leaders, is echoed in the Biblical scripture Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Simply put, our fight is not against the school board, administrators, parents, teachers, stakeholders or students. Instead our focus should be on principles. These principles include ideals such as right versus wrong, advocacy versus opposition, activism versus politicisms, and inclusion versus relegation.
“Nonetheless, without a compass directing us on where to go, there would be nowhere to lead them.”
It is not always easy to focus on the ideals because they are abstract. It is much easier to pinpoint the people who present the antithesis of the principles that you support. However, this is what I believe Colan meant when he said great leaders lead from the inside out. The focus is not on the who (people-on the outside) but instead the what and why (principles-on the inside). Why are we fighting? What do we want our outcomes to be? Years will pass and the who (students, parents, teachers, stakeholders, and administrators) may change, but the reason why we continue to lead with integrity remains the same. The why and the what are the driving forces behind the decisions that we make as we are leading with faith. Don’t be mistaken; without people, there would of course be no one to lead. Nonetheless, without a compass directing us on where to go, there would be nowhere to lead them.
So as I encourage myself, I also encourage each one of you in your perspective realms of leadership, to lead with faith. Remember that leading by faith means standing on your principles!
Dr. Dira D. Harris is an educator, public speaker, and author who has had practice ministering to individuals from the Baby Boomer Generation to Generation Y! Her unique background and life experiences make her literature both mature and yet still relatable. She is a wife and mother, sister, friend and a forever hopeful romantic who believes in the idea of leading in love in all areas of her love.