Nature and Style of Leadership: Moses

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The Administrative Leader

One of the greatest leaders identified in the Bible is Moses. Many people look at him and can relate to him because of all of his shortcomings. When God placed the mantle of leadership on Moses in Exodus 3, he quickly shared that he wasn’t worthy and probably not qualified to do what God was asking him to do. I think every leader should have a healthy sense of humility. God quickly reminded Moses in the rest of Exodus 3 and into chapter 4 that he would be a successful leader if he led out of the knowledge that it was indeed God leading through him. If you skip ahead to Exodus 14:31, it is exciting to read that in the end, “when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” God honors a faithful heart sold out to him.

Moses is identified as The Administrative Leader. He displayed a number of strengths and weaknesses as he encountered various opportunities and threats during his time of leadership. He was identified as having the gift of administration that is identified in 1 Corinthians 12:28. He also understood and practiced the Law of Rewards and the Law of Accountability. In order to get those on your team to continue to perform well, it is great to take time to recognize their hard work. If you do that on a regular basis, you can overcome all sorts of things. If you can’t raise their salary or give them a nicer office, you can always speak highly of them in front of others and find opportunities to “gift” them in other ways. Make sure that your teammates always know that you value them. Another way to show them that you care for them is to hold them accountable. If their work is slipping, let them know you are concerned because you know how talented they are. Don’t accept less than their very best! It’s funny that Moses is identified by the fact that he held others accountable when he was the first to want to run from the responsibility of leadership.

Moses is also identified as a Choleric. Many of the Old Testament Bible heroes are identified as Choleric. They were willing to do whatever it took to accomplish the task that God had laid out before them. It is hard to comprehend how enormous their faith was considering that they lived before Jesus ever walked on this earth as a man. Their faith was indeed belief without sight. However, Moses was a man of great vision. I believe that Moses could visualize leading the people out of Egypt before that ever actually happened.

It is important for The Administrative Leader to be aware of his weaknesses so they don’t lessen his ability to lead. These leaders can tend to be disorganized and overlook important details. That can cause loyalty to wane out of frustration. These leaders can also appear insensitive to the needs of those around them. They must be very careful not to use people just to get the job done or to make careless character choices. Administrative Leaders must also walk the fine line between delegation and laziness. It is one thing to know that someone is gifted enough to take on a task, it is another thing all together to just drop it on them because you aren’t willing to put in the work to get it done.

The Administrative Leadership model is the most common management structure. It could be called a “top-down” model. All of the directions come from the point person and are disseminated from there. The Administrative Leader is often found leading organizations that are in the midst of great change or the process of moving through a specific campaign. The reason that Moses was so successful is that the people wanted someone to save them and to lead them out of Egypt. They wanted to lead but didn’t know how to get started and where to turn. Moses won their confidence and so they followed him.

There are many opportunities that present themselves to an Administrative Leader, but there are also threats they must be aware of. They might find themselves in over their head on a project and unwilling to ask for help. Sometimes they are called in to salvage a project when it is already too far-gone to save. It can also be difficult to jump in with a team that is already established. They might be more conservative than the leader or too creative to work within the leader’s system. If the project is already in a crisis stage, it can be hard for the leader to win the confidence of her team.

There is one main reason that Moses was a very successful leader. He was comfortable asking for help. He understood what it meant to delegate. In Exodus 18:14, Jethro challenged Moses to allow others to do some of the work he was doing. According to Robert J. McKain, “The reason most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” Jethro helped Moses understand that being busy doesn’t mean that things are being accomplished.

Delegation doesn’t mean that a leader is any less of a leader, in fact it makes them a stronger leader if it is done right. Delegation helps a leader avoid burnout and communicates to teammates that their skills are valued. It also allows the leader to do what they are good at and challenges others to raise the bar to learn new skill sets. The greatest success story for a leader is for someone on his team to become a leader.

Moses was successful because he kept the mission and vision God had given him on the forefront of everyone’s mind. In Exodus 18:25 Moses selected judges to help handle the tasks of leadership. It says that they handled the little things and saved only the biggest decisions for him. Delegation also frees up the leader to spend time listening to God and coming up with fresh new ways to approach the task at hand.

In order to be a successful delegator in the long run, you must intentionally praise those who work for you. Set up memorials along the way to remember past successes. That can be a banquet, a journal, or some other form of looking back while still chasing the goal. Even Elijah needed to be reminded of God’s blessings along the way. In 1 Kings 18, God showed His power when He torched the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. However, in 1 Kings 19 Elijah was right back in the pit of despair. God had to remind him of past triumphs and the fact that His glory hadn’t diminished in any way. A strong leader reminds people of past successes in an attempt to fuel them for the rest of the journey.

In order for The Administrative Leader to be successful, they must be willing to lead their team to a resolution in the midst of conflict. Moses was identified as being a good manager of people. According to James Kouzes and Barry Posner, “Teamwork is an essential for a productive organization. Collaboration is needed to develop the commitment and skills of employees, solve problems, and respond to environmental pressures. Fostering collaboration is not just a nice idea. It is the key that leaders use to unlock the energies and talents available in their organizations.”

Moses was successful in teaching others about conflict resolution because he recognized God’s call on his life and kept that as his primary focus. He knew that the struggles he encountered were opportunities for God to be glorified and His mission to be magnified. Moses could have gotten down when bad things happened, but he was very calculated in his approach to situations. When you consider that Moses led the people out of slavery in the midst of plagues, death, and great loss, he had to be quick to deal with conflict before it settled in and derailed the goal God had given him.

Any great leader must prepare themselves for conflict. We recognize that Jesus was the greatest leader ever to walk the earth, but even he encountered conflict during his ministry. How much more then should we as finite humans expect to experience difficulties along the journey?

There are several different sources of conflict. Our text identifies 7 of them: territorial, border, resource, ethnic, influence, ideological, and personality. Some of these sources are easily avoidable when you sit down with your team and clearly line out each person’s role. When putting together your budget, consider the resources necessary to meet the needs of the project. It is also a good idea to have an understanding of temperaments and how they can work together in a team setting.

When conflict arises, decide what steps need to be taken to achieve peace. Does it really matter if you win? If you win, does the team lose? If the team wins, do you lose? What is the best possible outcome that would allow everyone to win and the goals to be met? What are you willing to give up in order to compromise? It is important to work these questions out in your mind before the conflict arises if at all possible. These three approaches can be narrowed down to confrontation, collaboration, and joint problem solving. In order to decide which approach to use, you need to have in mind your priorities and your target end result.

It is also critical that all parties in a conflict know how to fight fair. Even in pre-marital counseling couples learn that good communication means fighting fair. It means laying all your cards on the table in order to have the most honest dialogue possible. Both parties must have the team’s best interest in mind and respect for the overall project in order for the conflict to produce the best possible results.

Go into the situation knowing what matters most to you. What is your hill to die on? What is that one thing that you will stick to even if you give up everything else? Do your best to use “I” phrases rather than “you” phrases. Dr. Towns points out the fact that arguing is really not necessary. “If you are right, you don’t need to. If you are wrong, you can’t afford to.”

In order for The Administrative Leader to lead most effectively, they have to be ready for conflict. Conflict is a given when you are managing people. This applies whether you are managing one person or one thousand people. Anytime you have more than one idea, you have more than one opinion. Moses identified four things that can be used to evaluate every possible leader. Our text listed them as ability, wisdom, integrity, and character. Those four traits must be givens for someone to be a successful leader. According to Emerson, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of the organization.”


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