In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 9 verse 24, he asks them, “do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (NIV). As leaders we are in a race. A race against time, a race against the odds and a race to prove our worth.
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprint athlete who is probably considered the world’s fastest person, knows all about racing and winning. He is the only athlete ever to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals, not only in one – but two events, the 100m and 200m events. This was in 2008, 2012 and again in 2016. In 2008 Bolt was only 22 years old and already a world-famous athlete. He also has won 4 gold medals for Jamaica as a 4 x 100 relay athlete. Furthermore, he is one of 9 athletes ever to win the world championship titles at Junior, Youth and Senior level.
He truly wears the crown of World Champion, but the crown was not obtained easily. He had many setbacks and had to face many obstacles along the way such as:
Bolt was 15 years old when he started serious athletics and the pressure of the popularity really created stress for him. He did not take his athletics seriously at all and used to consume fast food and played basketball and was not disciplined in his athletics at all. He tried to rely on his natural abilities.
It was only in 2007, when his attitude towards the sport and his career changed and he started taking his career more serious, that his career improved. There had been claims that he was a lazy athlete. This was instrumental in him starting to focus more on improving his stamina and speed. The result was that he started setting new records and winning with better times.
As humans we consider many symbols to be important to our success and a crown is seen as the ultimate reward. Kings and Queens wear crowns to show they are the rulers and in many sports crowns are given to the victors. Crowns could be actual crowns as in beauty pageants or something that symbolizes a crown such as awards, titles, and position. Bolt’s crowns he received were his medals.
As a leader you can also receive crowns for being an authentic relational leader. In this article I want to suggest 5 crowns you could receive as recognition of your great leadership abilities. These are:
1. A Crown of Rejoicing – In his first letter to the Thessalonians in chapter 2 verse 19, Paul reminds us that, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (KJV)
The joy you will experience is the success you will have with your team when all is going smoothly. You will be able to rejoice at the results and share this with your team. You will be rejoicing because you are not under extreme pressure to perform all the time because your relationship with your team is such that they do what they must do because they trust and respect you as their leader.
Having a team that is fully engaged and inspired will allow you more free time, a lot less stress and much rejoicing.
2. A Crown of Strength – In his second letter to Timothy in chapter 4 verse 17, Paul claims that “the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.” (NIV)
The strength will come from the team being inspired to deliver the required results as a unit and having a sense of purpose. Your team will make a difference to the way you experience your leadership role because they will be committed to the end goal and will optimize the productivity which will allow you more free time and less chance of burnout.
As you build relationships and build Commodities of Trust, your team will be behind you in every objective, challenge, or obstacle you face. The strength you need as a leader will come from the unity your team provides because of the relationships you have built.
3. A Crown of Glory – in Peter’s first letter to the church in chapter 5 verses 3 to 4, he tells them that by leading in a way that is “not lording it over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (NIV). To achieve this crown, you will have to lead by building relationships and allowing everyone in the team to blossom in their own individual way.
Not “lording it over them” indicates that your style of leadership should not be a one of micro-managing and control freak, but instead one of unity and cooperation. By allowing the team to display their individuality in the group setting and be the best they can, you will receive the glory through the results your team will achieve.
The crown of glory is not meant to be about you being glorified for the achievements of the team, but instead by you glorifying the team for their contribution will bring you glory in the process.
4. A Crown of Endurance – In the book of Revelation chapter 2 verse 10 we are reminded to “not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you; the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (NIV)
Endurance for a leader requires self-discipline and tenacity. When the others in your team are wanting to throw in the towel, it is you as the leader that has to stand strong and show them the way by setting the example. You cannot be the first one to panic and abandon ship.
If you want your team to respect, trust and follow you wherever you lead, you have to be the one that squares up to the challenges that come the way of the team. No matter what the challenge may be, and not matter whether you have any control over it or not, you must be the anchor for the team and you must provide the guidance and encouragement to see the challenge through to the end. The sun always comes after the darkness and sometimes we need storms on our teams to wash away the rubbish.
5. A Crown of Self-Control – In the book of Proverbs chapter 15 verse 18, Solomon tells us that “The quickly angered man stirs up contention, but anyone who controls his temper calms a dispute.” (ISV).
All of the crowns discussed above are only possible if you have achieved the crown of self-control. Self-control requires that you:
By exercising self-control, you not only receive the crown of self-control, but you will also receive the crowns of joy, strength, glory and endurance.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verses 25-26 Paul reminds us that “everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” (NIV)
Put in the effort as a leader, learn the skills and lead from the heart by building the required relationships with your team. It will take time but if you persevere you will be successful and have a high performing team. As Usain Bolt discovered after some time, he could only get better and be the best by changing his attitude towards his career as an athlete and his training regime. You must accept your responsibility as a leader and put in the hard work to become the best leader you can and win the crowns of victory.
Go for gold!