What is leadership and what does it take to be an authentic leader? — By C. K. Ekeke

What is leadership and what does it take to be an authentic leader? — By C. K. Ekeke

What we see today is not true leadership

What we see in the world today especially in most third countries and even Western rich nations is not authentic leadership.  Today’s leaders want to be served rather than serve.  Today’s leaders do not care for the people, but their self-interest.  Many leaders do not have the interest of the people at heart at all.  Rather, most of them are driven by ego, greed and corruption.  Any criticism of their leadership style is a threat to their ego, power, authority and bad influence.

What is true leadership?

True leadership is the capacity to serve.  Authentic leadership is hard work.  Pure leadership requires wisdom and courage that can only come from God. 

Jesus Christ, the greatest leader of all time, made this ultimate leadership statement more than 2000 years ago. 

He said,

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to give his life as a ransom” (Matthew 20:26-28).

In a nutshell, Jesus was saying:  to be a leader in any capacity, you must be willing to serve, be a servant and ready to pay the ultimate price.  True, pure and authentic leadership is divine duty.  It is a great sacrifice and service to humanity.  It is a sacred task.  That is what genuine, pure and wise leadership is all about.

Who then is an authentic leader?

As a student of biblical leaders and leadership styles, I have read so many definitions of leadership.  However, the one definition that truly fulfills all the ingredients of wise, true, pure and authentic leadership is the definition that was developed in one of my leadership class that states:

“A leader is one who is called by God, people or circumstances to possess virtuous character and who effectively motivates, mobilizes resources and directs people toward the fulfillment of a joint embraced vision from God.  Leadership is the ability to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate those goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.”

Any leadership definition that does not include all of the above is incomplete.  Sadly, poor leadership is what prevails in most of our societies today.

God has blessed our planet so much that there is no need for people of this earth to suffer poverty, hunger, lack which naturally leads to crime, corruption, hatred, violence, war and death.

Seeking to be a leader no matter the level of leadership position is an honorable ambition and a noble task.  The Apostle Paul, one of the great church leaders of the first century wrote to his prodigy, Timothy,

He writes,

“If any sets his heart on being an overseer (leader), he desires a noble task.” 

However, that noble task requires wisdom, character, integrity and vision in order to lead others.  King Solomon realized the need for godly wisdom for leadership despite his physical attributes, wealth and family heritage, when he asked God for wisdom to lead his people ( 1Kings 3:7-9; 2 Chronicles 1:10-12).

True, authentic and effective leadership therefore, requires the understanding of divine nature of leadership.  It requires courage, character and wisdom that can only be bestowed by God Himself.  It requires a call, a commission, and competence. 

Today, many aspire to lead without preparation and wisdom.  To lead people requires more than popularity contest or charisma, great education, or immense wealth.   A leader that makes impact requires a definite call from God, or from people or by divine circumstances or providence. 

Additionally, a leader must be prepared as well as pray for wisdom, direction and power to lead other human beings. 

In Numbers 27:18-23; The Lord told Moses to commission Joshua, a man in whom is the spirit.  Then Moses laid his hands on him before all the assembly of Israel and before the high priest Eleazer and commissioned Joshua as the Lord instructed.  Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom as Moses laid his hands on him (Deuteronomy 31:14 and 34:9).  He was then presented as the successor of Moses at the Tent of Meeting before all the children of Israel and they listened to his wisdom and obeyed him.

C. K. Ekeke, M.Div., Ph.D.
Author, Consultant & Leadership Lecturer

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