During my Seminary experience I had the privilege of serving my peers as president of the Student Government Association (SGA). My responsibilities included serving as a representative for the students to the administration in order to improve relations and the student experience. When I sensed there was an issue with communication and student morale was low, I developed a plan to address the matter. I spoke with students to hear their concerns and developed an online survey to determine overall opinion about communication. When the survey revealed a dissatisfaction from students, and administration “caught wind” of what I was doing, I was quickly called in and told how the survey was not scientifically valid. I was instructed to address the student body about how invalid the survey was. I was basically told to apologize and stop what I was doing.
Don’t get me wrong, the individuals with whom I was dealing were great people. I had a very valuable Seminary experience, and appreciate those who genuinely cared about my well-being. Nevertheless, this response left much to be desired. Rather than hearing the heart of the need and considering that it was a valid concern, these administrators (and one in particular) were more concerned that I might make them look bad. There was a communication breakdown, and in my opinion, a leadership deficiency. If my honesty sounds harsh or arrogant, please don’t misinterpret it as that. I just have high expectations that begin with myself. Dave Ramsey said, “The very things you want from a leader are the very things the people you are leading expect from you. You must intentionally become more of each of these every day to grow yourself…And to the extent that you’re not doing that, you’re failing as a leader” (EntreLeadership, p. 9). In this particular instance, my leadership was not willing to do for me what I’m sure they wanted and expected from their leaders.
One of my professors, in speaking on the topic of leadership, said, “Leadership development is about self-development, and self-development begins with self-awareness. Know thyself.” To develop into great leaders, we must first develop as individuals. In order to do that, we must be brutally honest with ourselves, understand our strengths and weaknesses, recognize our personality and learning styles, and be lifelong learners. I will never arrive. But I do learn something every day.
Law enforcement officers are all in varying levels of leadership. The rookie patrol officer does not have a supervisor standing over her/his shoulder at all times. Decisions must be made, actions taken, time managed, and communication maintained. We deal with a variety of individuals and must be flexible in those dealings. We are leaders, and the higher ranking we become, the more essential good leadership skills become. I’ve also found, sometimes out of necessity for more income or for other reasons, cops tend to operate small businesses (real estate, landscaping, carpentry, plumbing, and more). We coach sports teams, participate in church/ministry leadership, and become active in our communities. We are leaders, so developing ourselves as leaders is a relevant and essential endeavor.
In speaking of leadership and personal development, Dave Ramsey’s newest book EntreLeadership is by far the most inspiring and practical book I have read in a long time – maybe ever. I’ve found myself repeatedly talking with my wife and saying, “Dave says…”. She simply responds, “Oh, you’re on a first name basis now?” In all honesty, this book is just that good.
Dave Ramsey (well-known voice on money, author, and founder of Financial Peace University) uses his experiences from over 20 years in business (from a faith-based perspective moreover) to provide practical steps for becoming a successful “EntreLeader” (a term coined by Ramsey that combines characteristics of entrepreneurs and leaders, and is defined as “the process of leading to cause a venture to grow and prosper” p. 11).
Chapters in the book include developing a personal mission statement, a practical guide for organization and time management that includes a daily “to-do” list, easy steps for simplifying the decision-making process, steps for hiring and firing, and advice for knowing when the time is right to launch out in pursuit of your dreams. He covers contracts, choosing vendors, collections, effective compensation plans, establishing great communication, building unity and loyalty among team members, and the process for delegation. It seems like there really is “some of everything” covered, and everyone will find something useful. To view the table of contents and read a free chapter, just visit the EntreLeadership website. Upon reading the book, there are bonus online chapters, videos, and other resources.
Whether you want to develop your leadership skills, need practical tips and advice for your business venture, want to improve the morale in your daily environment, or just want a good read, this would be my recommendation. Check it out…and let me know what you think!