Editor’s Note: Today’s post is an adaptation of the introduction to Ronnie Floyd’s new book Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks for Future Leaders. You can purchase your copy at Lifeway.com.
They are able to lead people to go further than they would have ever gone on their own. Leaders like this are a rare find.
Forward leaders are missing in action. Where are they today? Where are the forward leaders who can cast a vision for a better future, inspire you to want to go there, and then lead you to experience it? Where are the forward leaders who can lead so big, they do not limit their influence by their own preferences or choices in leadership?
Leaders in the future must rise and lead people forward. They have to lead so high above the fray they will not stoop to littleness in their thinking and conduct. They have to lead so big, they will not settle for just leading a few. They have to lead so deep; they will not be tossed and turned as they ride the tumultuous waters of leadership. Yes, I am calling for a different kind of leader to rise up for the future. The challenge before leaders today and in the future is that our world is so filled with various “groups” or “tribes” who identify with one another around an idea or cause; they have forgotten they are a part of something bigger.
If we live in the United States, we are a part of America, not just our little nagging group that believes we have no chance for a future. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are part of His church, not just a small group of people who may be discussing the latest Christian book or meeting around a social cause.
Forward leaders call people to rise beyond their own preferences and desires to be a part of something greater than themselves. Leaders like this are set apart from other leaders. They realize that if they spend most of their time answering every question someone has, concern expressed, blog post written about them, or complaint verbalized, they will lead backward rather than forward.
If you plan to lead in the future in any capacity, Forward is a book is for you. It is small by design; we want you to read it, all of it, to the very end. We want you to share it with others.
Forward is about seven distinguishing marks for future leaders. Who are these future leaders? Anyone who leads anything in the future. Forward is a call. Forward is a process. Forward is a direction. Forward is a change.
Forward is about a new kind of leader who must rise up to lead in the world of today and in the world of tomorrow. What are these seven distinguishing marks for future leaders? These marks will become the marks in forward leaders.
Distinguishing Mark #1: Forward Truth
In a day when people want to define their own truth, I will challenge you to anchor your life in forward truth. Understand right now that forward truth has always been true, is true, and will be true forever. Forward leaders are fastened to forward truth. They are notas prone to drift or end up in a ditch in their leadership.
Distinguishing Mark #2: Cross-Generational
Forward leaders are cross-generational leaders. Anyone who aspires to lead anything in the future needs to realize the following: When your leadership appeals to only one generation, you are limiting your leadership in the future. Leading cross-generationally occurs when you are able to lead people in your own generation, the generation that came before you, and the generation that comes behind you. Connecting to all generations is what forward leaders will do.
Distinguishing Mark #3: Futuristic Thinker
Forward leaders rise to lead people to a better future. They are futuristic thinkers who are always looking ahead, preparing for what could be. They are leading people where they have never been before. Forward leaders have a faith so big; they believe God wants them to change the world. If you choose to implement this, no one will ever accuse you of not thinking big enough!
Distinguishing Mark #4: Culturally Sensitive
Forward leaders will set themselves apart from others because they are culturally sensitive. You will be aware of the people, their ethnicity, and practices; therefore, you will lead with sensitivity to others. Failing to do this can be very costly. Forward leaders lead with cultural sensitivity.
Distinguishing Mark #5: Growing Teachability
The only thing that will keep you on the cutting edge in your life and leadership is your growing teachability. One of the greatest qualities of a forward leader is growing teachability. A leader who chooses not to keep growing personally will lead backward and eventually forfeit their leadership. Forward leaders remain teachable in life and leadership.
Distinguishing Mark #6: Compelled by Compassion
Forward leaders are compelled by compassion. They are able to see what others see, hear what others hear, and feel what others feel. Forward leaders learn about what compassionate leadership will do for them and their leadership. The cost is high, but the return is worth it.
Distinguishing Mark #7: Driven by Something More
Forward leaders are driven by something bigger than themselves. There is “something more” for every leader. Once you diagnose what it is, you can use your life and leadership, now and in the future, to be driven by something more. You cannot sit this one out. It is much more than a good idea; it is a movement.
I have one challenge for you. If you are willing to become a forward leader, you will set yourself apart from other leaders. Your value will rise. Your reach will expand. Your influence will grow.
The time is now. The future is here. Go forward!