When you walk into a leadership opportunity, you go with a little bit of equity by virtue of your position and the inevitable honeymoon period during which those you lead will let you get by with just a bit more than they will a decade later. But you have to be very careful with that equity. Every decision you make, and every risk you lead your organization to take will require an investment of some of your leadership equity (the trust people place in you).
Make good decisions and your equity will grow.
Make poor, costly decisions, you lose leadership equity and it’s nearly impossible to lead when you’re bankrupt of influence. So how do you handle the equity you have?
5 Ways to Steward Leadership Equity
1. Risk It, Don’t Horde It
Jesus Christ once told a parable about three investors. One of them buried his lent wealth instead of risking it – he got in big trouble! The two earned a return and were entrusted with greater opportunities.
You can’t walk by faith without taking risks. You can’t reach the summit of success without risking your current position.
2. Calculate, then Calculate Again
I used to apologize for making decisions slowly.
I don’t anymore because I remember my grandfather’s great carpentry wisdom, “Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once.”
In our culture, we’re a little enamored with those who look powerful by making big, quick decisions with an air of confidence. But the fact, is, most of the best decisions that leaders make are calculated, evaluated, tested, and weighed in the balances before the final decision is made.
When you think you’ve thought of all the possible outcomes, think it through one more time.
In short: take risks, but don’t do anything dumb.
3. When You Decide, Decide Fully
Remember in the movies when they would ask, “Which wire should I cut?” The bomb squad expert never says, “Well, I’m kinda thinkin’ the red one, but I’m not so sure, let’s give it a shot.”
If you are leading in the right direction, lead with confidence and strength, otherwise, stay put, but don’t balk. There’s always a penalty for balking.
4. Always Be Personally Invested
Don’t ask those you lead to take risks in situations where you don’t have to do so.
Put something on the line. Make it personal. Lead by example. People will follow your passionate and well-demonstrated commitment more than they will your words.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of the Words “I Was Wrong.”
Those are tough to say, but sometimes we have to back up and ask forgiveness.
Never proceed with a terrible decision if it becomes evident you should have led otherwise. Instead, use the recovery as a time to demonstrate strength the best you can.
Respect people who trust you. It takes a lot for people to trust you, so treat leadership equity like precious porcelain.
It’s part of being a good shepherd.
This article on leadership equity originally appeared here, and is used by permission.