Healthy Leaders


Is Caring a Weakness in Leadership?

Elaine VitikainenElaine Vitikainen

I’ve always wondered, What is an effective leader? I think of different Christian leaders I’ve worked with. Though they all profess the same faith, not one of them practiced leadership in the same way. One saw qualifications as very important ‒ he was seldom satisfied with staff performance. Others seemed obsessed by their position. It was difficult for the staff to share concerns with them because of the perceived gap in their positions. There was another leader who was so competent that she did not give a chance for staff to grow.

But I’ll never forget the leader who gave me the confidence to become who I am. A leader who crossed age, gender and racial differences. A leader who appreciated me and was concerned with my development. A leader who was genuinely interested in my personal and spiritual life as much, if not more, than my professional life. Most people consider this leadership style ineffective because it takes too much time to build relationships. Some feel that this type of leadership slows down the organization. Goals are delayed. They see a leader’s caring character as a weakness. I used to agree with this. But now when I think about it, this leader is the only one I remember with warmth and great joy ‒ the only leader who I thank God for.

As Rick James once wrote, “Effective leadership is not simply about skills, qualifications, titles, positions or even responsibilities; it is actually about who we are and how we relate to God and to other people.“

What kind of leader are you?

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