By Lisa Jernigan
“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8, New Living Translation).
Living in the desert of Arizona, I understand dryness and I understand drought. Sometimes it is hard for life to survive and thrive in these conditions.
Our lives in leadership can also go through times of dryness and drought. How do we stay green and fertile? As leaders, how do we keep visions energized and team members engaged?
To be more specific, how do we keep others wholeheartedly engaged amid discouragements and distractions, these inevitable times of drought? How does one keep her heart and soul in her work, and not just go through the motions?
To me, it’s all about vision. For as much publicity as vision receives, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook. It’s also easy to get caught up in execution and lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish.
An inspiring vision is one that transforms the mundane and status quo. Personally, I must continually ask myself. “Do I know my WHY? Why am I doing this? Why should it be done?” Being an effective leader is about continually energizing and breathing life into a vision for the purpose of evoking ownership and engagement.
I was challenged recently by Simon Sinek’s great book, Start With Why. Sinek points out how easy it is to focus on the how and what and forget the why. It is the why that inspires and creates enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Who does this for you? For whom do you do this?
As a leader, I must make sure those in the organization or ministry know why we do what we do, and that they are inspired to do it. A great way to reinforce this is by celebrating the victories, however insignificant they seem. Set goals that align with your why, and then work together to attain them.
Lastly, encouragement is critical in helping others stay aligned to the why. We all need encouragement, and specific encouragement is even better. The best encouragement reinforces the most important values. Encouraging others creates an opportunity for growth. Personally, I try to use my words with specifics (in person, and in e-mails and text messages) to spur others on to accomplish our why. Encouragement lifts people’s spirits, gives them confidence, and connects them in a genuine way.
John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Lisa Jernigan helps direct “Girlfriends at Central” at Central Christian Church, Greater Phoenix, Arizona.