In leading the Twelve, President Benson encouraged quorum members to express their thoughts candidly, even if he had a different opinion. When Elder Russell M. Nelson was a new member of the quorum, he thought perhaps he should not speak up. “But [President Benson] wouldn’t have that,” he said. “In fact, if I was silent on something he would draw it out.
1. Is it important to draw out the silent?
2. Is it important to learn from those who disagree with you?
3. Does a leader really need counselors or just “yes men?”
Although President Benson solicited opinions from all, he did not let discussions wander. President Howard W. Hunter said he “knew how to get open and frank discussion from [the] Brethren and [was] able to direct and control it and arrive at a unanimous decision with everyone united.”3 When “he felt that adequate discussion had taken place, he typically said, ‘I think we’ve got enough hay down now. Let’s bale a little,’ bringing the issue to resolution.”
1. How do we arrive at decisions with everyone united?
2. What is the difference between open discussion and wandering discussion?
President Benson cared for those he led, and he taught by example. “I know of no man more considerate of his associates or more concerned for their well-being,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said. “He does not ask others to do that which he is unwilling to do himself, but rather sets an example of service for others of us to follow.” President Benson was also effective in delegating work to others, teaching and building them through that process.
1. Why does leadership include delegation?
2. Why is consideration and service for others an important part of leadership?
The power of Christ’s leadership grew from the challenge of His example. His clarion call was, “Come, follow me!” … His [success in gaining] the loyalty and devotion of men to principles of righteousness depend[ed] upon love as the great motivating factor.
If you are to provide future leadership for the Church, [your] country, and your own homes, you must stand firm in the faith, unwavering in the face of evil, and as Paul said, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
1. What is the full armor of God?
2. What parts does the full armor of God include?
3. How does love fit into being firm?
Our young people need fewer critics and more models. You are the models to which they will look for a pattern in life to which they can follow and adhere. They will need the inspiration which can come from you as you square your lives fully with the teachings of the gospel.
1. Do “older” people need the same things as “young people?”
2. Why don’t people need critics?
3. Why do they need models?
Spiritual strength promotes positive thinking, positive ideals, positive habits, positive attitudes, and positive efforts. These are the qualities which promote wisdom, physical and mental well-being, and enthusiastic acceptance and response by others.
Only the wholesome have the capacity to lift and encourage one another to greater service, to greater achievement, to greater strength.
Inspiration is essential to properly lead. … We must have the spirit of inspiration whether we are teaching (D&C 50:13–14) or administering the affairs of the kingdom (D&C 46:2).
There is no satisfactory substitute for the Spirit.
1. How do these factors fit into the “whole armor of God?”
2. Is there a difference between leadership in the Church and the kinds of leadership you see other places?
A genuine leader tries to stay well informed. He is a person who acts on principle rather than expediency. He tries to learn from all human experience measured against revealed principles of divine wisdom.
One of the best ways for leaders to understand correct principles is to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the scriptures and the appropriate handbook. Most situations have already arisen before, perhaps many times, and policy and procedure have already been determined to handle the problem. It is always wise, therefore, to refer to and be familiar with existing written instructions and Church policy on questions as they arise.
1. How often have you had a leader who acted contrary to the handbook?
2. How often did they feel they were right?
3. How often did it cause problems?
4. What about people who just did not know?
A good leader expects loyalty. He in turn gives his loyalty. He backs up those to whom he has given a job. The loyalty extends to matters beyond the call of duty. He is loyal when honors come to those with whom he serves. He takes pride in their successes. He does not overrule unless he first confers with him whose decision he overrules. He does not embarrass an associate before others. He is frank and open with him.
1. Have you ever dealt with leaders who think of loyalty as a one way street?
2. How does love and service fit into not embarrassing those you would lead?
A love of people is essential to effective leadership. Do you love those whom you work with? Do you realize the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (see D&C 18:10)? Do you have faith in youth? Do you find yourself praising their virtues, commending them for their accomplishments? Or do you have a critical attitude toward them because of their mistakes?
Even harder to bear than criticism, oftentimes, is no word from our leader on the work to which we have been assigned. Little comments or notes, which are sincere and specific, are great boosters along the way.
We know … that the time a leader spends in personal contact with members is more productive than time spent in meetings and administrative duties. Personal contact is the key to converting the inactive member.
1. Have you ever dealt with someone who seemed to have a critical attitude rather than a caring attitude? How did it affect you?
2. Have you ever tried to operate in a vacuum? How does that effect you, especially if you have a critical leader?
3. How important is personal contact?
In the Church especially, asking produces better results than ordering—better feeling, too. Remember to tell why. Follow up to see how things are going. Show appreciation when people carry out instructions well. Express confidence when it can be done honestly. When something gets fouled up, it is well to check back and find out where you slipped up—and don’t be afraid to admit that you did. Remember, our people are voluntary, free-will workers. They also love the Lord and His work. Love them. Appreciate them. When you are tempted to reprimand a fellow worker, don’t. Try an interesting challenge and a pat on the back instead. Our Father’s children throughout the world are essentially good. He loves them. We should also.
1. How does appreciating and loving people in situations where things didn’t go as you wanted or expected fit in with being supportive rather than critical?
2. Should we really love people like God loves them?
Jesus gives us the master example of good administration through proper delegating. … Many of His delegated missionaries traveled without purse or scrip. Men suffered great hardships in carrying out His instructions. Some of them died cruel deaths in His service. But his delegated disciples went forth into the world bold as lions through His charge. They accomplished things they had never dreamed of. No leader ever motivated men and women as did He.
The Church of Jesus Christ builds leaders through involving people delegated through authority. When [Jesus] was on earth, he called twelve apostles to assist him in administering the church. He also called the seventy. He delegated [to] others. There were to be no spectators in his church. All were to be involved in helping build the kingdom. And as they built the kingdom, they built themselves.
1. What do you think of delegation?
2. Is there risk in delegation?
3. Why would Christ delegate to us, as flawed and weak as we are?
Jesus aimed to exalt the individual. …
Jesus aimed to make of every man a king, to build him in leadership into eternity. On that memorable night after the last supper, He said to the eleven … , “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12.) Through delegating, Jesus desired to lift, rather than suppress, the individual. And all through the Church today, men and women are growing in stature through positions delegated to them.
1. Is delegation part of love and trust?
2. Is delegation part of how you teach and care for others?
Wise delegation requires prayerful preparation, as does effective teaching or preaching. The Lord makes this clear in these words: “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14). And we might add, ye shall not delegate without the Spirit.
A wise administrator in the Church today will not try to do the job himself, giving the impression that no one else is quite qualified. And as he delegates, he will give an assurance that he who has been delegated has his full backing.
When responsibility has been given, the leader does not forget the person assigned nor his assignment. He follows with interest but does not “look over the shoulder.” He gives specific praise when it is deserved. He gives helpful encouragement when needed. When he feels that the job is not being done and a change is needed, he acts with courage and firmness but with kindness. When the tenure of an office has been completed, he gives recognition and thanks.
No wise leader believes that all good ideas originate with himself. He invites suggestions from those he leads. He lets them feel that they are an important part of decision making. He lets them feel that they are carrying out their policies, not just his.
1. How easy is it to believe that not all good ideas originate with yourself?
2. How hard is it to fully back someone you have delegated a task to?
We must remember that … the Church … is not the business world. Its success is measured in terms of souls saved, not in profit and loss. We need, of course, to be efficient and productive, but we also need to keep our focus on eternal objectives. Be cautious about imposing secular methods and terminology on sacred priesthood functions. Remember that rational problem-solving procedures, though helpful, will not be solely sufficient in the work of the kingdom. God’s work must be done by faith, prayer, and by the Spirit, “and if it be by some other way it is not of God” (D&C 50:18).
1. Is that hard to remember?
The whole purpose of the Church is to build men and women who will be godlike in their attitudes and in their attributes and in their ideals.
1. What can a leader do to encourage that to happen?
2. What have you experienced when you have acted as an instrument in the Lord’s hands to help other people?