Leadership By Example

ramon rochaBy Ramon Rocha

Can you say, “Do what I do, not just do what I say”? An excellent leader is one who sets a good example. He or she is a person of integrity.

As a leader, you set the tone and atmosphere at the workplace. Whether you like it or not, you are creating clones around you. Those whom you supervise want to please the boss.

Are you a model employee? Do you uphold and follow company policies? Or are you above the law, so to speak? Do people see the genuineness of your heart and character? No one is perfect. But we should be good role models before our staff, our family and the general public.

Temptation is always present in our mind and thought life. A helpful lesson I’ve learned, aside from Jesus’s example in Luke 4, is to run from temptation like Joseph did in Genesis 39.

In recent news coverage, several prominent leaders have doctored reports to look good to the public. Brian Williams, veteran anchor of NBC Nightly News, a major TV newscast in the US, was suspended after admitting fabrication of his coverage in Iraq. He had claimed enemy fire had hit his helicopter in a 2003 trip to Iraq.

Last year Pastor Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill, in Seattle got caught manipulating the sales of his book Real Marriage. The church had paid a marketing firm $25,000 to manipulate book sales and attain a spot on the New York Times bestseller’s list.

Sometimes success is addicting. Author-researcher Jim Collins, in his book How the Mighty Fall, explored the phenomenon of why some big companies fail. A key reason for their failures was falling into “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

It is true for companies and it is true for our careers. We may be tempted to compromise integrity to project a picture of continuing success. Let us be truthful in all our reports, stating facts as they are, not hiding our inefficiencies and failures.

How do you lead in a crisis situation? Let me share this scary story:

After lunch in 2006, I was doing my usual “MBWA”—management by walking around the OMF Lit office. I had a friendly chat with our warehouse staff. Returning to my office, as I passed our bookshop, I saw a man pointing a gun at our bookstore cashier. In my panic, I decided to head toward the side door to seek a policeman on the street, even a traffic cop. With my chest pounding, I looked around and could not find one.

I felt guilty that I may have made a cowardly escape and left my staff to fend off the gunman.  When I reentered the side door, the gunman had already vanished into the busy street on his motorcycle. Later I learned from our frightened cashier that she had kept her cool. We had only lost a few hundred pesos because she had already turned in the morning cash sales.

The talk around the office that afternoon was “Our CEO abandoned ship and left us at the height of danger!” I will not forget that incident, and kept thinking, did I do right slipping out of the side door to seek help? Or I should have confronted the robber and offered myself as a sacrifice?

What would you have done?

As the leader of your team, you also serve as their pastor. Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5: 2-3, NLT).

I believe this statement is true: “People don’t care how much you know. They’d like to know how much you care.”

Ramon Rocha is the director of publisher development at MAI. This post is an excerpt from his talk, “Seven Marks of an Excellent Leader in Christian Publishing,” given at MAI’s European Forum, England, April 8, 2015.

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