Leadership Is Grace

May 22, 2024

We all have them, that friend who is perpetually late. Are you envisioning that person in your head right now?

I’ve been rather busy lately and was feeling burned out, so I was very much looking forward to getting away this weekend on my sailboat. A dear friend whom I’ve known most of my life heard I was going and asked to join, with his kids. This was the first time that we have both been free on a weekend together and I happily agreed to bring them along. I should also mention that this friend is my perpetually late friend.

The island that we were sailing out to gets busy on the weekends. You have to make sure you get there early in the day to get a spot. I made sure I suggested a departure time that would allow us plenty of time to get to the island to find a spot to anchor. But of course my friend was over two hours late to the parking lot, and then we still had to load his gear and the gear of his children.

Rather than get frustrated I decided to think about what leadership principles I could learn from this. What I realized is that leadership is grace.

If you have read any of John Maxwell’s books you may be familiar with his motto, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” What I realized is that it’s easy to be nice to somebody you do not know, but it takes a lot of effort to have grace with somebody who you are friends with already. I can only give grace if I already have influence in my friend’s life.

Rather than get frustrated at what I knew was an inevitable outcome I decided to practice grace. I made sure everything was in order for him and his family to step aboard the boat and have the best possible weekend Island getaway. It does not get much more magnificent then sailing up to a beautiful island and tossing out an anchor to hang out for a couple of days. The kids were able to row into shore with the dinghy and go on some beautiful hikes. My friend and I were able to spend some great time reconnecting. A time that may have been strained if I had chosen instead to stay frustrated.

By remaining calm and giving grace I was able to be the leader in the relationship. My buddy understood his mistake, he is not dumb. He knows I get frustrated when he’s late, and he knows it is common for him to be so. Had I chastised him for being late he would’ve been defensive, however by extending grace I kept the lines of communication and respect open. He brought up the fact he was late, he said he knew it affected our schedule, he admitted fault and asked forgiveness from me.

So you see, grace is a form of leadership. You have to take the first step, lead out, extend grace to the other person. You will be amazed at the positive results.

Photo by Rachel Pfuetzner on Unsplash

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