“Tag Along” is the name of this original African painting. I like it a lot. I think the reason I like it is because it reminds me of how we do leadership development at Community Christian Church and NewThing. So much of leadership is really about just that – you tag along with me and you will learn from me and I’ll learn from you the lessons of leadership. But as we tag along there are two types of leadership lessons that are taught by every leader and learned by every emerging leader. I was aware of the first type of lessons that I was teaching and not so aware that I was teaching the second. Here are the two lessons of tag along leadership:
EXPLICIT LEADERSHIP LESSONS: The explicit leadership lessons are those lessons that we are very intentional about passing on to others. If someone asked, “what will I get out of this leadership residency or internship or this apprenticeship” we would be able to show them this list of lessons. We pride ourselves on teaching these lessons and hope to pass them on to others.
IMPLICIT LEADERSHIP LESSONS: The implicit leadership lessons are those lessons that we teach by accident to others. These lessons (for good and bad) are taught through who we are and by our life. We don’t advertise these lessons or list them any where, but they are taught just the same.
I was reminded about implicit leadership lessons last week when I was in Detroit with David Dummit the Lead Pastor of a NewThing church outside of Detroit called 242 Community. They are doing amazing work and God is blessing it in an amazing way. Before David and his team planted 242 Community he and his family came to Chicago and did a 6 month Leadership Residency with us at Community Christian Church. It was our intention (explicit leadership lessons) to expose and teach David during his residency about the reproducing church, the 3C’s and to grow his passion for “helping people find their way back to God”. Well, he got all that…just visit 242 Community; they totally get it! But David also got more than that (implicit leadership lessons)!
As he was driving me back to the airport he said to me, “Dave I want to thank you for three things you taught me during my leadership residency.” I fully expected him to thank me for teaching him something about the priority of reproducing the church; communicating a vision for which people will make huge sacrifices or how to build real community on your staff team. You know something like that. But he didn’t mention any of those thing I consider as explicit leadership lessons. Instead he mentioned the following three things:
- “You drive a crappy car.” – David was referring to the fact that I drive a ’94 Paseo that looks terrible but is paid for. I have always driven crappy cars that were paid off. I haven’t given it a lot of thought. I do know that a new car would mean lots of debt and this seemed like better stewardship choice. So, I couldn’t help but notice that David was driving me to the airport in an old pick-up that made funny noises. I have a hunch that the reason he is driving that kind of vehicle is because they just went through their first capital stewardship campaign and he had had to lead the way in making sacrifices. I never meant to teach him that a crappy car can be a good stewardship choice, but I guess I did.
- “You coach your kids sports teams.” – He had assumed at some level that if he was going to pastor a church that was growing and make a significant impact that he wouldn’t have time for things like coaching his kids teams. I love coaching my kids teams. Right now I’m coaching my 3rd graders basketball team and helping with my 8th graders basketball team. It’s a blast! I’ve always believed that if are really doing church the way that God wants us to our families will thrive. I didn’t know that I was teaching him a leadership lesson that had to do with his kids and coaching – but I guess I did. And I’m glad I did.
- “You stay in good physical condition.” – The best leaders I know practice good self-leadership and it shows up in how they take care of themselves physically. I have tried to do the same by regularly exercising and pushing myself by running a few races every year. I didn’t know that David noticed, but as we talked it became apparent that this made a real impression on him.
I’m sure there were other lessons that I taught David that were not so flattering to me. He was kind enough not to mention those. But it was a good reminder to me that with every leader that I ask to “tag along” I will be teaching both explicit and implicit lessons about leadership.