Are you a leader? Do you possess the strength, courage, and confidence to rule your kingdom of life, career, team and business? What is the most important quality of leadership?
Leaders may behave badly, indeed very badly, abuse their power and act without any concern for those who depend on the leader. The stories we usually hear in society of betrayal of trust, manifestation of greed, and actions in flagrant self-interest are reminders of the grave responsibilities of leadership.
They are warnings of the traps of leadership and the persuasions of naked power. Societies have long worked to develop rules of behavior that prevent such fall-out. Yet stories around us from leadership in churches, political arena, organizations etc. remind us, there is still a long way to go before we can trust leaders to behave in a civilized manner.
This past week, I became curious about my baptism name “Daniel” and decided to explore the life of Daniel. I’ve been reading through the Book of Daniel everyday of this week and have been jotting down some principles on Daniel’s leadership. The Bible says that Daniel had an “excellent” spirit within him. Below are some highlights I’ve been noting of his excellence in leadership and the learnings we can pick. I have noted them as my observed key principles that can help to improve your self-performance, self-confidence, and self-awareness.
Take the journey as a seasoned leader towards driving greater effectiveness for yourself, your team, or your organization.
1. Leaders must not be afraid to be different: In Daniel 1, we are told that Daniel
wasn’t afraid to be different, he didn’t just conform to the culture he found himself captive in. He was counter-cultural. Without hesitation, he requested that he and his friends be given a different diet than what was on the Babylonian menu.
Generally leaders must be able to create a following for network reciprocity to be optimally augmented by conformity and not be conformist on their own without purpose. When leaders are castrated and made to follow, the failure of coordination impairs the evolution of cooperation, this generally means that the leaders will not have moral courage, authority to lead their teams.
Cultural awareness and engagement is important, but conformity erodes a leader’s influence.
2. Leaders must not be afraid to have the hard conversation: In Daniel 4:22-30 we are told that when Nebuchadnezzar had become enveloped in pride and arrogance, Daniel wasn’t intimidated to have the hard conversation about where this conceit was leading the king. He was a straight shooter. He told the king God would drive him into the wilderness to eat grass like a wild beast “until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
As leaders we must have the courage to stand alone, the tenacity to not succumb to pressure, and the patience to keep fighting until you win, to speak boldly about some consequences and sometimes being able to do all three at the same time is something you will have to develop if you want to be a true and successful leader.
3. Leaders must be able to rightly interpret problems and solve them: In Daniel 5:16, the Bible says that Daniel had a gift for solving problems, not blaming others for them.
“A skunk stinks from the head down,” and a team does too. This means when there is blame to be accepted, the leader must be the first one to accept it. Leaders solve problems, cowards place blame. Leaders find solutions, bosses point fingers. Leaders find a way where others make excuses. Leaders seek to understand before being understood. They rightly interpret problems and bring about solutions to fix them.
4. Leaders have their teams back, and therefore can be trusted: In Daniel 2:49, we are told that, after Daniel interpreted the King’s dream, the King paid homage to Daniel, offering him high honors and many great gifts. But Daniel didn’t forget his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He requested to the king that they be appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon. Daniel understood that at every level of success in life, someone helped you get there. He didn’t forget his friends; he remembered those who had helped him. He had their backs!
Leaders always take the helm of the problems or victories/success when they happen but must also have the tenacity when accolades are appropriate, to spread out among the team members. And when this happens, a leader is born.
Leaders have to be able to talk and listen to their employees on all levels of the company. At the same time, they must have the respect of their employees, the kind of respect that’s earned by being honest, having integrity, and being tough but fair.
Key leadership Lessons-summary:
The lesson from the life of Daniel is that he exercised great integrity and, in doing so, received the respect and affection of the powerful rulers he served. Daniel’s integrity as a man of God gained him favor with the secular world, yet he refused to compromise his faith in God. Even under the intimidation of kings and rulers, Daniel remained steadfast in his commitment to God.
Daniel also teaches us that, no matter who we are dealing with, no matter what their status is, we are to treat them with compassion. See how concerned he is when delivering the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream (Daniel 4:19).
As Christians, we are called to obey the rulers and authorities that God has put in place, treating them with respect and compassion; however, as we see from Daniel’s example, obeying God’s law must always take precedence over obeying men. As a result of his devotion, Daniel not only found favor with those around him, but above all he found favor with God and was held in high esteem by Him (Daniel 9:20-23).