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Every member of a system influences how the system functions. But, it is the leader who has the most influence on the culture of the organization. Whether it is a congregation or a business or a family, leaders define culture.

Leaders are effective not because they have lots of skills (though they might), but because of who they are.

Effective leaders do not impose culture. They do not tell other people what to think. They do not spend a lot of (wasted) time and energy trying to convince people to agree with them.

Instead they spend their time and energy gaining clarity about what they themselves believe. They have a vision they are committed to living out (whether people follow them or not).

Effective leaders do not spend a lot of (wasted) time and energy trying to get other people to behave as the leader wants them to behave.

Instead, flowing from their clarity of vision, they spend their time and energy choosing for themselves how to act and how to react (rather than getting caught up in the anxiety of the system). Their actions flow from their beliefs, their attitude, their Spirit. Who they are – their identity – is clear. Their doing flows from their being.

Doing flows from being for ineffective leaders, too.

Ineffective leaders are unclear about what they believe (or aren’t as clear as they could be). They don’t have a clear vision that is guiding them. Ineffective leaders fail to see they have a choice in how to act and react. Ineffective leaders readily get caught up in and take on the anxiety of others. Ineffective leaders look to others for their identity.

If you want an anxious system, be an anxious leader.

If you want an apathetic system, be an apathetic leader.

If you want an organization that is scared about the future, be a leader who is scared about the future.

If you want a congregation full of disciples, be one who is a disciple and who disciples others.

If you want a healthy system, be a healthy leader.

It should be noted, in systems that are committed to being anxious, or apathetic, or unhealthy, it is possible to add a healthy leader and not see an improvement in the health of the system. It is not, however, because the leader has had no impact. It is because the system has reacted to the presence of the leader by resisting. The point I am making about leadership is that it is impossible for a system to function in a healthy way with an unhealthy leader.

Do you want your family, your organization to be a certain way? Be the leader it needs.