Saturday, January 06, 2007

Predictors of Successful Leadership

Jack Yoest at Reasoned Audacity recently wrote an excellent article celebrating his son's participation sports and giving a tip on how to understand a potential applicant's leadership ability.

There is some quibbling with this a little over at the Jollyblogger regarding where that leaves those who are less gifted athletically when it comes to leadership.

I'm not sure what the phrase "best predictor of successful leadership" really means. For some folks it could mean that they don't understand any kind of leadership except that which is expressed in cleats. For other people I would get the sense it means that they feel a camaraderie with those who are likewise athletes and so would trust their judgment since they are a part of the 'club'. For these folks who are looking for a certain status and bravado, they will find it when discussing sports quickly. For others I think the phrase would mean that sports is a great laboratory for seeing how people think in certain situations, to see how to others respond to their leadership, to see how they endure pain, to see if they give up, to see if they can be trusted when things are tough, to see if they can win graciously and loose just as graciously. Of course there are other ways to do that besides sports but sports is one area of life that allows people to be measured and it is supposed to be okay. Sports is an area of life that ranking is endured and encouraged without hurt feelings. We create an objective standard by which we judge one another. In other areas of achievement, the standards are often subjective.

If you are looking for a way to learn about a person, sports might be a good topic to bring up in a job interview. If the person did not participate in sports, then ask what their passions were (are). Ask where and how they learned leadership.

There are many people who are excellent athletes but poor leaders. There are many good leaders who are poor athletes. But a great leader may have learned their leadership by participating in a team with a loosing streak a mile long.

King David learned about leadership in other laboratories of life. He looked after sheep and played music. The shepherd job taught him how to fight a dangerous adversary. He learned God is the one who gives success in battle (or a fight with a bear). He learned how to use his sling. By playing music he learned how to be alone with the Lord. He also learned how to communicate to others the heart of the Lord. Who would have thought of these as training grounds for kingship?

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