The Long, Winding Road of Leadership

By May 7, 2016Leadership

No need for a news flash. If you’re a leader of any capacity, then you know that leadership has its challenges. Leading yourself is hard enough; add in three, five, fifteen, or fifteen hundred other people and the obstacles can be daunting.

I’m about midway through my 46th year on this earth. For 25 of those I have been in some sort of official, paid leadership position. Then you can throw in time served as a little league captain and junior class vice-president. While not an expert on the topic, I do have a few gray hairs to show for lessons learned — and many of those are hard-earned gray hairs.

In his letter to the Roman Christians, the apostle Paul tells them that those who have been given the gift of leadership should lead diligently. Another translation says they should lead with zeal.

The long, winding road of leadership is easier to navigate with diligence than it is with zeal.

A diligent leader is one who takes her role and responsibility with care and thoughtfulness. She is on the spot and on top of things. In some respects, diligence is a matter of the will — choosing to do the right thing at the right time. Diligence is in the details.

Zeal is another matter.

Zeal is emotional more than intellectual. Zeal involves eagerness. It is focused passion and enthusiasm, shining a light on the path forward. In the end, zeal is fueled by energy and every leader needs a daily dose of energy.

Diligence and zeal are more closely related than you might think. Attention to detail will suffer in the absence of motivation. Without passion, it’s easier for things to fall between the cracks.

[bctt tweet=”When you are on the long end of the long, winding road of leadership, sustaining diligence and zeal become critical.” username=”kenhensley”] In the earlier days of leadership, when projects were just beginning or a career was just blossoming, diligence and zeal seem to come naturally.

As the road bends and turns, and perhaps you encounter a few dead ends,