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A great many challenging ideas have come to me while I have been worshiping. On a recent Sunday, my wife and I spent an enjoyable hour singing hymns at the Colts Neck Reformed Church. Reverend Scott Brown has created a special worship service, letting the congregation select the hymns. Each of us gets a form on which we write the name and number of our favorite hymn, then someone picks slips out of a basket. He calls out each number to the organist and we sing a few selected verses. In this way, each of us has influences the way in which the service flows.
In essence, each worship participant plays a role in the service. However, it is our leader, Scott Brown, who has set the tone and tenor of our worship service. He has created an environment that lets us express our feelings, preferences and perceptions. His talent for drawing out the best in the congregation involves one of the rarely mentioned roles of a leader.
It is my suggestion that a truly effective leader takes positive steps to guide the organizational environment in a positive direction. They create a focus whereby people want to play an active role. They make it a place you want to be rather than a place where you must be.
Let me share some thoughts about a way in which leaders can and should influence their organizations. After all, where would we be without the people who guide our organizations toward that uncertain place called the future? We complain about the need to change; however, an effective leader will create an environment where people seek out and embrace the future, rather than cowering in fear.
We complain that we need members, but then we make leaders of those who do everything in their power to drive people away. Something is wrong.
Over the past few years, many of you have asked about the role of leaders in everyday life. In some cases, you have bemoaned the lack of leadership in your world. Others have railed against the bad leadership that has made a shambles of your life. The rarest of all messages from you involves praise for those good leaders among us.
It is my intention to lay out one of the most important tasks that leaders must accomplish. This would be the way in which they create the operational environments for their organizations. It is up to the leaders to set the tone and tenor of their environments. Sadly, far too many leave this important task to chance. These people spend their entire careers winging it. They provide no direction, no guidance and little in the way of caring or concern for the people who are looking to them for guidance. They just flit from crisis to crisis, flailing their arms and flapping their lips.
Life is not a chance occurrence. Far too many leaders fail to recognize that they can and should have an impact on the people around them. Even worse are the people who care only for their own selfish wants and needs. They live by one half of the famous "one for all and all for one" motto. Everything is OK for them only as long as they are the ones who are allowed to gather in the "all."
The truly effective leaders learn how to tune into the inner spirit of their organizations. They learn early on that the people for whom they are responsible require a comfortable environment to create the greatest gain for the organization. They are comfortable around people and enjoy working with others on a regular basis.
Let me use a very simple, but appropriate example. Think about how the way in which the conductor of an orchestra works to create the approach an orchestra will take toward interpreting the music of a particular composer. The conductor recognizes that he or she is responsible for creating the environment wherein dozens of musicians come together to make beautiful music. A number of factors are at work. The interest, education and experience of the conductor are brought into play in the creation of an ensemble's musical repertoire.