The Most Excellent Way to Lead

“Great leaders don’t tell you what to do they show you how it is done.”

Everyone is a leader…whether we think we are or not. We all lead ourselves…the choices we make daily end up being the sum total of our lives. How and where we lead ourselves matters and we can either acknowledge it or not but..our actions and how we conduct our lives influences, impacts and leads others……..

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Dave Ramsey in person for the first time. I’ve been a big fan of his books and so when given the chance, I jumped at hearing him in person. He delivered way above and beyond my expectations. He is a leader I want to follow!

I have learned from public speaking that the last person to speak in a series of speakers is typically called the “Closer,” the one who delivers the “KNOCK OUT” punch. It didn’t take long for me to realize why Dave Ramsey was the last to speak at the all day leadership conference entitled, “The Most Excellent Way to Lead.”

Among the many things Dave spoke about was his personal testimony which was powerful. I loved how he mentioned that a Gideon Bible placed in a Hampton Inn was used as a part of his coming to know Christ. I also loved him sharing the story of how he came to the point of being considered an expert in money management. He told of being very poor and growing up without money which taught him the valuable lesson of what to do with it when he finally earned some.

Dave started out his presentation by taking the first 15 minutes to highlight one important point made by each of the other speakers at the conference that day. He set such a great example of what “GREAT LEADERS DO.” They LISTEN. He lived “out loud” that he had come to the conference to learn and that he was teachable.

Second, he shared his back story. Everyone got to know Dave.

Third, he led by edifying every other leader who had been on the stage. Wow! There were FIVE other speakers before him. He did an amazing job of tying everything together and going right into his training. He shared six things a great leader should always do when leading an organization. Since he leads a very successful organization and has taught thousands of other people how to do so as well, I think his wisdom is worth sharing:

1. Everyone needs to have a VISION on where they are headed! Others are willing to follow when the leader constantly paints a picture of where they are going. Then others know where they are going and are comfortable following. He noted that no one usually follows someone who doesn’t seem to know or communicate where they are going.

2. Those you lead need to be valued (compensation). He said he had to get over the fact that he thought that if he hired people, they would automatically work. He quickly learned to get rid of people who didn’t work. He showed those who did WORK that he valued them by paying them well! Fire the donkeys, which he called a donk-ectomey, and value the thoroughbreds!

3. All great leaders crusade. A great leader communicates to the ones they are leading that they are in the middle of something that matters. For instance, in his business he constantly crusades that they are in the HOPE business, not money management. It gives power to why you do what you do. Crusading allows everyone to invest. He said, “We don’t ship books. We ship HOPE!” He noted that he hires millennials and thoroughbred millennials don’t stick around if their isn’t a big why–a crusade that is bigger than themselves. It makes me think of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The thoroughbreds want to be sharpened.

4. You have to tell the story. As a leader, most people you are leading need to know the story of how you got to your leadership position. He noted that success is NOT an accident. You don’t fall into success and the people you lead need to know how you got there. He quoted Sir Isaac Newton as saying, “If I have seen farther than others, I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” Tell the story of how you got to where you are and what giants’ shoulders you have stood on. Dave stood on some big shoulders and he was quick to share! Telling his story of success was powerful! He certainly led me!

5. As a leader you need to be predictable, not all over the map. One day one way and the next day another. Be a stable and predictable leader so that people do NOT walk on egg shells around you. Do NOT micromanage your team. It robs them of growth and their dignity. Communicate and allow people to do their job and develop and be creative. They need to know what you would do if you are not there. Treat the people you lead like you would want to be treated. Embarrassing the people you lead in front of other co-workers is humiliating and is a reflection of a heart issue of the leader. It is counterproductive and, as a leader, you lose trust and your leadership will eventually bleed out!

6. Lead with passion and love! Nothing trumps love as a leader! There is no energy in “logic” so at some point you have to stop looking at graphs and reports and have passionate meetings that breathe life into the group. He said, “Leave the cave, pick up a stick and beat the bushes” as a leader and others will follow the passion. If you don’t sincerely love those you lead, it will be obvious. Love is an action. James 1:22 affirms, spiritually speaking, this approach. We can’t just read; we have to do. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

This is a short summary of a powerful message and great wisdom given by someone who has influenced and helped thousands of people. Dave Ramsey has a great heart and loves Jesus. When you choose to become a better leader, even if it is just for yourself, you will affect generations.

Challenging yourself to grow and be better is one of the greatest things you can do with your life. Your talents and life is God’s gift to you. What you do to develop it is your gift back to God.

I leave you with the words of Jesus found in Matthew 20:25-28.
“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”

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