Leadership Rubric: The Last 10%

Leadership in the past, has been defined in a myriad of ways: organizational, tactical, technical, executive and managerial. It has been used to describe the 360-degree leader, the 180-degree leader, the empty leader or the forward leader. They now come in every flavor, size and color.

But what’s the bottom line of that which defines a leader? What is the evaluating standard or the rubric by which all leadership must be scored? Simply stated, one of the rubrics of leadership can be seen in the amount of other leaders they produce. One man said, “If you say you are a leader but no one is following your footsteps, you are just taking a walk.”

An essential to great leadership is not simply found in the count of the crowd. It is discovered in the count of the leaders that rise from the crowd. This is what turns a sprint into a long run, a spurt into a geyser, a trend into a pattern. It is a leader’s ability to reproduce himself many times over that is his or her legacy. I jest with missionaries that if they come off the mission field and they’ve not reproduced themselves in dozens of indigenous leaders, they’ve not really been missionaries. They were simply on a long, exotic excursion.

2 Timothy 2:2 reminds us of this:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

The full orb of true leadership is seen when the ones I have discipled and led, are now discipling and leading others. It isn’t in the crowd count. It is in the second generation leaders count. Jesus understood the rubric of leadership. He began by choosing twelve who would extend His leadership. It was building teams of leaders … that would be His legacy.

Now, herein lies the rub.

Often leaders will feel a sense of failure when they are no longer needed like they used to be. The once“go to” guy is no longer the headcheese. The “thanks” and gifts begin to flow to others you have put in place, and you don’t have your hand on every lever anymore. You get a bit depressed when you realize that your ministry or business can thrive without your omnipresence. You might even get your leadership hand slapped when you try to take over something you let go of.

The first 90% of leadership is thrilling, but the last 10% is what defines you as a leader.

King Saul couldn’t lead in the last 10%. David intimidated him. Saul’s ambivalence finally destroyed him as well as his legacy. Had King Saul led well in the last 10%, if he would have coached David into his victories rather than trying to sabotage them, Saul would have been remembered throughout biblical history as one of the great leaders of the Old Covenant.

Every successful leader will wrestle with the last 10%. It is not going out to the applause of a sizeable crowd that will quickly disperses after your tenure … like the disappearing crowd after a Sunday service.

Instead, it may be only a dozen, or a dozen minus one, that will catch the fire, take leadership, and go on to change the world.

That will be the true measure of leadership success … It’s succession.

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