So many obstacles.
A weary public frustrated by a history of under-performance. A business hierarchy driven solely by finance. A post no-one really wanted you to take. A team that is not the most capable or experienced. A responsibility to nurture a generational group nicknamed the ‘snowflakes’.
You may not wear a waistcoat and you won’t have to see the result of your strategy played out in front of 20 million people longing to see a national story change, but many of you will know what it means to lead in situations like these.
It could be running a school, deemed to be underperforming, with demotivated staff. Or perhaps managing a retail business working hard to make a profit in a declining market. Maybe it’s overseeing an office team made up of people still struggling to find a reasonable work ethic. Or pastoring a church wondering if its best days are past.
How do you lead in situations like these?
Speak with grace and humility. Encourage everyone: those in the public eye and those who are routinely forgotten. Help people to see that their whole lives matter, not just their professional ones. Lead out of your own experience of success and failure. Wear a waistcoat (maybe).
From time to time you watch someone from afar and it reminds you of someone else. Someone who took a set of young adults, overlooked and underappreciated, and called them to be a different generation, the carriers of a new future.
For many of us, today is another day of leadership in schools, businesses, offices, churches. Today’s task is to help people work together on a common task for a common goal. We know that sin continually crouches at our door, determined to obstruct the paths to shalom. It’s in these contexts that we need to decide what sort of leader we will be. It’s all too easy to retreat into defensiveness, covering our own backs, finding the scapegoats who will carry our failures.
That’s not the way of the leader we follow: the secure one, willing to wash the feet of those he led.
Today, your team might succeed: enjoy the moment to the full. Your team might fail: bear it with an air of well-worn stoicism.
But continue to learn to lead from those who do it well.
With or without a waistcoat.