In a cultural moment where leadership is lacking, good leaders must do this one thing first.
When we discuss great leaders who did great things, we tend to focus on the character qualities and accomplishments of great leaders without noticing the first duty of a leader.
While it is good to cultivate good character qualities of great leaders, I think we must focus on first principles.
Take a moment to answer this question, “What is the first duty of a leader?”
Vision-casting and accomplishments along with humility, courage, creativity, integrity, wisdom, and intelligence are good things but they are NOT the first duty of a leader.
Max Dupree stated, “The first responsibility (duty) of a leader is to define reality.”
This simple statement is true.
What does it mean for a leader ‘to define reality?’
First, a leader must ground themselves in reality by seeing the world as it is in its current state. This is what Francis Schaefer would call “real reality.” If a leader does not see things as they really are, that leader’s vision for what can be will be distorted. Second, a leader must define reality for those he leads. Only then can the leader cast a vision for the future.
When God created the world and everything in it, He defined reality. When man fell into sin, that reality was distorted. The redemption we have in Christ grounds us in reality anew and orients us toward God. One day, He will restore all things – including a restored final reality.
Your first duty is a leader – your first responsibility is to see things as they truly are. That includes the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. You must accept present reality as it is. Then, you must define reality for your people. After grounding yourself and your people in reality, you can cast a vision and develop a mission for the future.
Defining reality is a discipline and skill that must be learned and actuated by every leader who desires to lead well.
Dupree states, “We must teach ourselves to see things the way they ARE.”
Only then can we “cast a vision for what CAN BE” Dupree concludes.