It was John C Maxwell who first said “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
What makes this such a great quote is that it is catchy and packs an enormous amount of wisdom into the short time it takes to say it. For this reason, I chose to unpack this quote at our Leadership Inductions last week.
A leader knows the way
Let’s imagine that a group of friends hike to the top of Mt Beerwah (when it is safe and legal to do so). It has been a long and hard journey and taking are taking a well-earned sip from their water bottles as they survey the magnificent view. After a few minutes, it’s time to begin the steep downward descent.
They are not long into the descent when they suddenly realise that the terrain is not familiar, this was not the way they came up. The group must have taken a wrong turn! Everyone has seen the news reports of helicopter rescues off the mountain and don’t want to be one of those statistics. Panic goes through the small group until someone (let’s call him Jack), says, “We did take a wrong turn but there is more than one way down the mountain, I know the way; follow me.” Immediately Jack takes the lead and starts down the mountain and everyone else follows.
A leader knows the way. In our story, one of the group (Jack) never claimed to be the leader, but because he knew the way down, the others followed. If Jack didn’t know the way would others follow him? Of course not, why should they? Jack would have no claim to be the leader.
Our student leaders are at the beginning of their journey. They only have around 200 days this year in their leadership role. They are challenged with knowing the way, having a vision for what they want to accomplish and a dream of how they want to make the College a better place.
Faith and Community Captains are planning their Chapels and lunchtime bible studies. House Captains are considering their goals for their sporting houses this year and Arts Captains are working out how to champion the arts at GCC. Our Captains will be leading our students on a journey this year and they need to know the way in order to do it well.
A leader shows the way
Let’s go back to the story on the top of Mount Beerwah again. The group are lost but then Jack pipes up and says, “follow me”.
Now for one moment, there is a sigh of relief that settles on our group and as Jack takes the lead, others follow. But there is another person in the group who expresses doubt. Let’s call him Zach. Zach asks, “Why should we follow you, how do we know if you are the real deal?”
Jack points down the face of the mountain and says, “I used to go climbing here all the time with my uncle, I have been this way a few times all we need to do is make it to those rocks over there and then the track becomes clearer we can follow it all the way to the carpark.”
No one noticed at the beginning of the journey but Jack seems to have the gear. He has the Camelbak water bottle, he’s got the bushwalking boots and the thick socks with the plastic bits over them to stop cobblers pegs, he’s got the tropical strength Bushman’s insect repellent and dangling around his neck is a little compass.
Jack is no phoney; he is the real deal. Everything that he is is completely consistent with the words that he is saying. The group (including Zach) is convinced and the friends head down the mountain.
If there is one thing that is going to sabotage what our leaders are trying to achieve, it is if they aren’t the real deal. For example, if they are trying to build a more connected student body then they have to be an empathetic person who likes talking to people. Our student leaders and captains are elected because they are good role models. Their words match their actions. This should be the goal of every leader; their words and actions need to be consistent. They need to ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’.
A leader goes the way
Let’s head back to our story on the top of Mount Beerwah again. Imagine if Jack, after his proclamation of “I know the way” and clearly being the “real deal” decided that he would merely point the way to the track and when it came to moving, he retreated to the back of the pack and never said another word.
If you don’t “go” the way you are not going to arrive at your destination. A leader deliberately makes things happen that will progress those that follow to the final destination. It is great for people to just absorb a leaders’ energy and enthusiasm because of the strength of who they are but what things, plans and events are they going to put in place to realise their vision for this year?
Let’s be fair, we all have known some examples of “do nothing” leaders over the years. Leaders who start with some great intentions and want to make a real difference but for some reason, their flame of passion soon flickers out and at the end of the year, their leadership has been underwhelming, to say the least. It was like they weren’t even there.
I want to encourage all of our GCC leaders to keep their flame burning; plan for great things this year and make them happen, not just hope they happen. I want them to use the unique status they have been elected to in order to motivate fellow students in ways that staff often can’t.
Leadership is an honour
Leadership is an honour. To be a person of influence, to be someone who has the ability to affect change, to inspire people to achieve better things is an awesome privilege; it is something to be treasured and not wasted.
I pray that over the course of this year, God will direct our GCC Captains’ paths in leadership and that He will grant them the supernatural wisdom and discernment they need to “know the way, go the way and show the way”. I have every confidence that our 2023 Captains will serve the students well and the impact of their leadership will be profound.
Mike Curtis, Principal
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