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What It Takes To Succeed - What Every Public Servant Leader Should Know
Monday, August 30, 2021 6:07 PM

What It Takes To Succeed - What Every Public Servant Leader Should Know

Monday, August 30, 2021 6:07 PM
Monday, August 30, 2021 6:07 PM

There are leaders, servant leaders, and us – public servant leaders. What sets us apart is that unlike leaders, unlike servant leaders, everything public servant leaders do is subject to public scrutiny.

There are no open records requests that probe the actions and lives of leaders in the private sector. But public servant leaders’ lives are open books and if we aren’t careful, our actions and words will write a book we will not want those who love and care about us to read.

There are godly attributes that every public servant leader needs for protection and promotion. There are a bunch of leadership books out there, but public servant leadership is a whole different animal. And we know this don't we?

No matter how long we may be in office or how popular we are - one mistake. One misspoken word. One cover-up. One accusation. And overnight, our career and we are toast.

Perfection is an illusion. There are no perfect people. The first and last perfect person left earth over 2,000 years ago!

While we can't be perfect, we should always be careful. Politics and the public arena are Satan's playground and he isn't playing with any of us!

Rarely, in today's hyper-divisive and polarized environment do many of us, if any of us, take the time to really think about and meditate on what it takes to dodge political bullets and arrows. Including the scathing rhetoric of critics who want nothing more than to take us down and take us out.

The only sure-fire way to combat them is to be wise. Not smart, wise. And wisdom can only come from God. He lays out clearly what it takes to serve and lead - to come out as pure gold and on top every time.

Rarely, however, do many take the time to examine closely the principles that guarantee good success and will bulletproof our career.

By embracing and consistently practicing the principles below, even though you may lose a battle or two, you won't be down for very long and never out because God will not leave one who obeys in the dust of failure and defeat at the hands of those influenced by the Adversary.

Let's explore six sure-fire principles that are guaranteed to distinguish you and result in good success and promotion throughout your career and life.

Rarely do we dissect our service this way. But times demand intentionality. And any edge is a great edge.

If you prefer audio, you may click here and listen to this article on the Governing God's Way Podcast!

These are what it takes to be the kind of public servant leader that God will honor and that people will respect. While some people may not like you or agree with you, if you follow these principles, people, even your enemies, can’t help but respect you. And if they don’t, it is them, not you that is the problem.

Why? Because these are attributes that God honors according to His word.

1. Durability. Blessed is a man (or woman) who perseveres under trial James 1:12

We have got to be able to take a public licking and keep on privately ticking. Tried and true public servant leaders are hewn in the quarry of public adversity and forged by the fires of public failure, public defeat, public criticism, public personal attacks; and, public betrayals. But they neither quit nor make excuses. 

Those who get this principle, persevere. When publicly knocked down for all the world to see, instead of giving up, you must find the inner strength to get back up and try again – not once, not twice, but as many times necessary to run for and win that seat or be hired for the big chair in the corner office. 

We can’t faint, falter or take our ball and go home when someone hurts our feelings. It comes with the territory. No public servant leader reaches the top without battle scars and none without harnessing the power of perseverance. You have to have durability.

2. APPROACHABILITY. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men
(and women). - Romans 12:18

We can have all the ability in the world, but as public servant leaders, if we have the personality of a stump, it will stunt our professional growth and severely limit opportunities.

Public servant leaders serve and lead people. We can’t afford to dislike or dismiss people outright without first hearing them out.

If we lack the abilities to care for and connect with people, especially our colleagues, we lack the ability to lead. 

While technical skills and abilities will get us in the door, or win us the seat, the inability to get along with people, empathize with people and connect with people will get us kicked out of the door. Worse, booted from office.

People skills is the top skill set public servant leaders should hone because we are in the people business. And in our business, this skill set above any other is our most advantageous. 

Why? If people like you, they will go the extra mile for you. If people don't like you, they will lead the covert charge against you. Every single time, without fail.

Work at being approachable, warm, friendly, likable, and easy to talk to. These aren’t attributes of wimps but of winners!

These often overlooked attributes will take you places ability alone never will. We have to be able to connect with people.

3. BE REASONABLE. A gentle answer turns away wrath - Proverbs 15:1

As elected leaders and city and county officials,we want what we want don't we? But rarely do we get to have life and work on our own terms.

And if we are prone to emotional outbursts, irrational, or volatile behavior when we don’t get our way, we invariably will be moved out of the way!

Great public servant leaders have learned the art of self-control. And it is an art every leader must master. Be reasonable, because hot heads are often left in cold storage.

4. RELIABILITY. A good name is to be more desired than great wealth - Proverbs 22:1

Be a person of character and integrity. Our name is more valuable than our money. No matter how wealthy, if we can’t be trusted, we won’t be promoted. No matter how wealthy you are, the one thing you can never buy is a good name. That is earned. And it is a matter of integrity, character, focus, and reputation. 

Ability is no good if our constituents, employees and colleagues can’t depend on us to do what we say we will do, when we say we will do it, and in the manner we say we will do it. It's called integrity.

If you know you can't deliver, don't promise. Full stop.

From start to finish, our career path is more directly tied to our integrity and character than our ability and money. Plenty of people have both. But, if we have no character, we can have all the ability in the world and no one will trust us.

Decide to be a person of character, a person of integrity – a person with a true north,  a person of your word. It will be not one of the best, but the best career and life decisions you will ever make.

5. ACCOUNTABILITY.  ... and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians  5:21

Accountable leaders don’t duck the hard stuff. When they mess up, they put on their big boy and big girl pants and quickly ‘fess up. 

Accountability is about taking responsibility for not only our actions but the actions of those we lead. Accountable leaders take the blame but never the credit.

This is most difficult, especially for bright, secure, successful and self-assured people.

However, the willingness to be held accountable may someday prove to be your saving grace. No matter our position, for the sake of good success, we all need someone to keep us in check.

6. BE TEACHABLE. - Teach me good judgment and knowledge... Psalm 119:66

Ask God for a teachable spirit. A "know-it-all" leader is no leader at all. Once colleagues, constituents, friends and those we lead sense they can't tell us anything because we refuse to listen - with the erroneous belief that we know it all, have seen it all and done it all, after a while, they won't tell us anything at all even if it would help us. 

Arrogance is every public servant leader's greatest enemy. And is the opposite of every godly attribute needed to be a great public servant leader.

Arrogant leaders, for the sake of review and comparison, aren’t durable, they are not approachable, they are not reasonable, they are not reliable, feel they aren't accountable to anyone and they aren’t teachable.

Arrogance is in direct opposition to the word and character of God. And He hates it.

One drop of arrogance is like a glass full of strychnine. It doesn’t take that much to kill your career.

Go back and write these down and look around you. I guarantee you, the most successful and admired public servant leaders will exhibit every one of these godly attributes.

And if you are to be one of them, so too, should you.

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