Creation was a sound event. “And God said, ‘Let there be…” And there was. The existence of the universe came into being from a voice; the voice of God. In the same way, leadership is a sound experience. An effective leader has the ability to hear and discern multiple voices while at the same time calling other voices into harmonious sound with the potential to imagine and create the future. A leader creates a personal soundtrack with a distinct voice and tone. He or she understands that the God who spoke the universe into existence still speaks today, fulfilling a creative mission in the world through people called into leadership service. The leader, like a conductor equips and inspires them to influence others toward the purposes of God.
Leadership matters. Practicing the acoustical art of leadership increases effectiveness and enhances the outcomes of all who answer the call. But, before one can see the future and do what is required, one must listen both to people’s voices and to the voice of God. Listening to God’s voice provides direction and sets the tone for creating a harmonious “choir” out of sometimes dissonant voices.
UNDERSTANDING AND BUILDING ON THE SOURCE
All music, harmonious or discordant, finds its source in the twelve-note chromatic scale. God-honoring, kingdom-seeking, biblically rooted leadership has a scale too. The complexities of leadership, its required competencies, character, convictions, courage to act, charisma, and compassion to accomplish what is needed for the common good of the people fulfilling God’s mission in the world is built on five words: Listen, See, Learn, Do, and Love.
HEARING AND DISTINGUISHING THE VOICES
Effective leaders hold in tension the multitude of competing ideas, values, and decisions. When voices offer differing perspectives, the majority voice, loud voice, or passionate voice may not always be the right voice. The acoustical art of deciding on which voice to listen to requires the ability to listen and then apply filters of Mission, Vision, Values, Resources, and God (the Voice of One). Kingdom-seeking, God-honoring, biblically rooted leaders need to learn how to hear God’s voice and lead from a divine center with a heart in tune with the heart of God.
COMPOSING AND PLAYING THE MUSIC
Music is an art of arranging sound to create some combination of form, harmony, melody, rhythm, or expressive content. A leader arranges and influences a group of people toward a preferred future. Like music, the combined elements of leadership create an inspiring expression for those experiencing the leadership encounter.
God is in the business of developing people. From the beginning of time, God has called individuals, inspired and equipped them for service, and sent them into the world to make it more as he intended it to be. God often selects the least, smallest, and most unlikely characters, inspiring them with a mission and vision beyond their ability, giving them a task beyond their capacity, and along the way shaping and molding them to be the influencers he wants them to be. Like a composer, God arranges the notes of their lives to create a masterpiece for all to enjoy. The mission of God in the world is carried out by individuals who allow the Lord to shape their lives preparing them for meaningful service. Like the sound of a beautiful symphony, their lives inspire those around them offering hope, peace, and fulfillment. God takes great delight in creating individual masterpieces that play his divine music within the world.
Leadership is “being” that results in “doing.” How you lead flows from who you are. Personality, strengths, values, sovereign foundations, events, personal bests, and broken world experiences in life all have shaped us into the people we are today. That identity is expressed through a set of behavioral tendencies, a leadership personality, and a certain style. How a person understands mission, embraces vision, employs strategies, solves problems, sets direction, equips and inspires teams, and approaches planning are all a natural expression of who he or she is. Just as the notes C, E, and G form a major chord pleasant to the ear, so integrity, courage, and humility are character qualities that leaders need to tend to when composing the song of their leadership.
Leaders have a personal soundtrack that permeates the entire organization. Personal soundtracks are created from your heart and soul combined with your style and work ethic. The concert heard by the stakeholders is communicated on the sound waves of emotional intelligence, responding to crisis, and strategic implementation of vision. Valuing others more than yourself, striving continually to do more, and treating people with dignity and respect are the tones that comprise the soundtrack of God-honoring, kingdom-seeking, biblically rooted leadership.
Dancing is a universal, celebratory expression of music. From swing to disco, ceremonial dancing to street dancing, from rhythm dancing to social dancing, celebrating the accomplishments of a group on mission places a song in the heart and joy in the steps of those involved. Dance moves are like attitudes, an expression of our thinking and feeling in response to what is happening in our lives and leadership. The attitudes of gratitude, generosity, and graciousness are three dance moves of leadership service that result in a life well lived.
Leaders create legacies. The legacy of a leader is the difference you made that will last. Living your legacy is the best way to create lasting impact. The genre of your leadership becomes your legacy.
APPLYING AND ARRANGING THE SOUND VARIATIONS
Noise is a vibration that travels through a medium. How we perceive it determines what kind of noise it is. Leadership also is perceived in different ways. Some perceive it as command and control, others perceive it as power and position, and some perceive it as surrender and service. All these leadership variations, like noise, make an impact on the listener. Leadership can be life-giving or life-diminishing. How leadership is perceived and how one responds is determined both by the one influencing and the one being influenced.
Like sound frequency and intensity, leadership can be interpreted in different ways. Often kingdom leadership is indistinguishable from marketplace leadership. Seeking rather than building, influencing rather than controlling, and changing from the inside out rather than outside in are the frequencies by which we measure kingdom leadership.
Leaders challenge the status quo and create disruption, leading to a new way. Leaders make waves. All of us are called to serve. Some are chosen to lead. When chosen to lead, identifying the influences that have shaped our lives preparing us for leadership can lead to discovering why we have been chosen to lead and the opus we are called to create.
Leaders create effects. Their attitudes and actions elicit a response from those engaged in the mission. Their presence can inspire or dishearten the people. Corporate cultures are created by the effects of leadership. Confidence, excitement, and discipline result from the voice, tone, and mood of the person in charge. Positive, healthy, and thriving cultures are created when the person called to influence has an attitude of gratitude, humility, generosity, and transparency and together with the people, practices taking responsibility, recognizing decisions have consequences, and learning from failure. These attitudes and practices have a life-giving effect on the people.
Leaders who want to honor God with their influence must continually ask, “What does God want me to do?” A good lead brings mission, vision, values, strategies, actions, and decisions of all kinds before the Lord for guidance. Providing kingdom-seeking, God-honoring, biblically rooted influence requires one to have an ongoing, intimate, interaction with God. The sound of this guidance can come through daily living, practicing spiritual disciplines, and silence.
CREATING A MAGNUM OPUS
A person’s magnum opus represents his or her greatest piece of work. All vocations can inspire a magnum opus. But the true magnum opus of a leader are the leaders they equip and inspire to influence others. Leaders create leaders. Those leaders then become a symphonic legacy of influence. Creating a magnum opus of leadership begins with ideas, requires reflection, and involves participation, relationship, entrepreneurship, and service. This is the ultimate sound of leadership, one generation of leaders investing in the lives of the next generation, creating a sweet melody to the Voice of One.
You can now order Jules's first book, The Sound of Leadership. Learn more here.