What do you do when someone under your leadership or on your team is more popular or successful than you because of their achievements? Do you celebrate and embrace their success? Do you view their success as a valuable contribution to your team or as a threat? Are you comfortable leading people who may be more talented than you? Are you willing to share authority with them or do you try and contain or control them?
These are challenging questions that inevitably reveals the true character of a leader. Secure and empowering leaders will go out of their way to ensure talented and successful people are given responsibility and authority to flourish by exercising theirs gifts. However, positional and insecure leaders will go out of their way to restrict or remove people who are better than themselves.
At the recent Global Leadership Summit Chris Brown, Senior Pastor of North Coast Church, presented a session entitled "Right Title...Wrong Kingdom." In this session he made an interesting comparison between two leaders. He spoke of Saul, Israel's King, who faced overwhelming odds from his enemies and how the young shepherd boy David led the nation to victory and received enormous acclaim for his successes. Instead of embracing David's victory as his victory, Saul viewed David as a threat and pursued him with the intent to end his life. In contrast, Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, embraced the gifts and abilities of a Hebrew slave named Joseph and put him in charge of all of his kingdom, second only to himself.
What was interesting about this comparison was that God's anointed leader of Israel was threatened by anybody better than himself and was unable and unwilling to recognise God's anointing upon another. Whereas, the pagan leader of Egypt was not only intuitive enough to see beyond the cultural barriers of a person's religious and social status but willing to embrace and empower an outsider to advance his kingdom.
There are so many powerful lessons to be drawn from this tale of two leaders! But the question asked by Chris Brown drawing from these lessons that should challenge any leader in any context is, "Can we empower someone to the point of taking some of our power?" Your answer to that question will have a significant impact upon the success of your leadership!
Leadership author and speaker John C. Maxwell declares his answer to such a question in his book The 360 Degree Leader, "Good leaders give their power away. They look for good people, and they invest in them to the point where they can be released and empowered to perform."
What is your answer?