3 Life-Changing Declarations All Leaders Must Make

What decisions did you make as a younger leader that had the greatest impact in your life?

Where there’s clarity, there’s forward movement. This theme recently emerged in a conversation with a younger leader. He asked me, “What decisions did you make as a younger leader that had the greatest impact in your life?” My mind went back immediately to a time in my 20s, when I was first told by an older leader that I possessed leadership gifts and potential. Soon afterward I settled on three fundamental personal declarations that have guided my leadership ever since. The clarity these declarations provided seemed to create a new level of forward movement.

Leadership Declaration #1: I will take responsibility for my own development as a leader.

I have had the privilege of having many wise and generous leaders pour into my life. But while I have gratefully received this mentoring, I have always held to the belief that I am personally responsible for my own development. As I was now telling this young leader, “Learn from as many leaders as possible. But at the end of the day, no one else is responsible for your own growth. That’s your job.”

Leadership Declaration #2: I will squeeze every ounce of productivity out of every day.

Right from the start I purposed to master the use of time. Some would later call this “energy management” versus “time management,” but whatever the term, the principle has remained the same. I wanted to extract as much production out of every single minute of every single day as possible. My message to this young leader was clear: maximize your time.

Leadership Declaration #3: When it comes to sheer effort, I will push myself to the limits.

In my younger, less mature days I put it this way, “I will work harder than anybody.” Later, with a bit more seasoning, I learned to compete with myself, not with those around me. I have now learned to say, “I will continually strive to exert maximum effort in all I do.” As I told this young leader, “There will be many reasons some plans don’t work out. Don’t let lack of sustained effort be one of them.”

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Well, these are the declarations I made early on that had the greatest impact in my own leadership. These might not be yours, but let me urge you to take the time to clarify your own leadership declarations. Because where’s there’s clarity, there’s forward movement.

Scott Cochrane
Scott Cochrane is the Vice President—International of the Willow Creek Association. He loves Jesus, Nora, Adam, Amy and John. Football and hockey are further down the list.