When it comes to leadership, I think we often feel like we have to be perfect, or reach this certain point, before people will follow us, or before we can step up as a leader. I remember when I was playing in high school, we had some really good players on our team from my freshman year through my junior year. At the end of my sophomore year and by the end of my junior year, we had graduated all of our highly touted players. And I remember thinking, “When I’m a Senior, this is going to be my team”. And I have heard this many times while coaching in high school. Kids have operated with the idea that when they became a senior, or even just an upperclassman, that they were going to somehow morph into a leader, just because they had an SR after their name on their name sign hanging on the wall of the gym.
The truth is, people don’t follow an SR. Having an SR after your name on a sign doesn’t make you a leader. People follow people, and you don’t have to be a perfect person. Because people don’t follow perfection either, they follow your pursuit. People want to see you sweating, staying in the gym late or getting to the field early. People want to see you working your rear end off in practice, WORKING on being a great teammate, and valuing every rep in practice. People want to see you pouring into SOMETHING with a great pursuit. This means that you don’t have to be the best player, or a SR, or a high scorer to be a leader. It means that you could be the most encouraging encourager, you could be a phenomenal practice player, you could be someone who takes charges and gets on the floor and sacrifices for the team. When people see that you are pouring out for something, that you are PURSUING growth and improvement, that is when they are most likely to follow.
The only perfect leader that has ever existed is Jesus. But I don’t think the people that chose and continue to choose to follow him do so because of his perfection. They follow because he LOVED and LOVES them deeply. They follow because he PURSUES those that he loves relentlessly.
Martin Luther King JR. was a great leader not because he was perfect, but because of his PURSUIT of something meaningful and impactful.
When you look at great athletes who have been good leaders for their teammates, they may have been exceptional in their performances, but far from perfect. Their PURSUIT of a championship, and sometimes, just their individual PURSUIT of greatness is what has drawn people in.
The father whose family loves him and admires him as their family leader: It’s not because he’s perfect. It’s because he LOVES them, and they can see he is pursuing things to provide for his family and working to create a great life and experience for them.
You don’t have to be perfect. People aren’t looking to follow perfection, they are looking to follow your pursuit.