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Column: Lessons from a great leader

I love observing, asking questions of, and reading about great leaders. John Maxwell talks about leaders who are travel agents and leaders who are tour guides. Travel agents can give you brochures and pass on information but have not been where you are going. Tour guides go with you and show you the inside scoop because they have been there and done that. I will always choose to learn from tour guide leaders. I want to learn from the leader who has successfully led an organization; whose company is growing; whose team is winning.

I recently re-read the story of an extremely gifted leader, Abigail, who saved her family after her husband made another leadership blunder. Although materially successful, his leadership was a mess in numerous ways.

You can read about Abigail in the Bible in 1 Samuel chapter 25. If you haven't read her story, you need to. You don't need to believe in God or everything in the Bible to learn about leadership from Abigail. But, you will find that the source and strength of her leadership was her faith in and relationship with God. And, yes, I am convinced the same is true today. The heart of great leadership starts with the issue of your heart. Great leaders are first great followers.

Here are four leadership qualities Abigail powerfully demonstrated.

Abigail had a bias for action. She immediately moved into motion even though it was her husband who put her family in great danger. It takes a great leader to respond during a difficult time and Abigail was that leader. The greater the problem, the more difficult the situation, the more critical leadership becomes. Leaders make things better.

Abigail was visionary. She saw further than her foolish husband. She saw how devastating his poor communication and connecting skills could be to her people.

Abigail was skilled at connecting. The person her husband offended was David. He was seeking revenge for how Abigail's husband treated him and his mighty warriors. Abigail connected with him personally, face-to-face, with honesty, humility and authenticity. She understood David's needs and his story. She connected through his perspective. A connector asks questions, listens, and does their homework long before they ever speak. They realize that before they speak on "their subject" they will discover your story and where you are at. Connectors know if they fail to connect they have failed.

Abigail was courageous. Without courage a leader will undermine the effectiveness and progress of their team and mission. Leadership always requires making difficult decisions. If you want what few have you must do what few are willing to do. Leaders take ownership for a loss and give credit away for a victory. Abigail took ownership for the situation and asked for forgiveness even though she was not the one at fault.

Send me an email and let me know what you have learned from a great leader. God bless you. See you next Sunday.

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