Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Conviction to Lead

bookI’ve never read a book by Al Mohler, but after reading his latest book The Conviction to Lead (kindle version), I was certainly impressed.

I loved the angle this book took in comparison with other leadership books. This book was less about what a leader does and more about who a leader is.

Mohler said,

The problem is a lack of attention to what leaders believe and why this is central. If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.

So, what is a conviction? According to Mohler it is…

Convictions are not merely beliefs we hold; they are those beliefs that hold us in their grip. The leadership that really matters is all about conviction. The leader is rightly concerned with everything from strategy and vision to team-building, motivation, and delegation, but at the center of the true leader’s heart and mind you will find convictions that drive and determine everything else. You can divide all leaders into those who merely hold an office or position and those who hold great convictions. Life is too short to give much attention to leaders who stand for little or nothing, leaders who are looking for the next program or riding the latest leadership fad, trying on idea after idea but driven by no deep convictions. Convictional leaders propel action precisely because they are driven by deep convictions, and their passion for these convictions is transferred to followers who join in concerted action to do what they know to be right. And they know what is right because they know what is true. Without conviction, nothing really matters, and nothing of significance is passed on.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me in my reading:

  • Leaders want to lead organizations and movements that make a difference—that fill a need and solve real problems. That story frames the mission and identity of the organization, and explains why you give your life to it. The excellent leader is the steward-in-chief of that story, and the leader’s chief responsibilities flow from this stewardship. Leadership comes down to protecting the story, bringing others into the story, and keeping the organization accountable to the story. The leader tells the story over and over again, refining it, updating it, and driving it home.
  • Real leadership doesn’t happen until worldviews are changed and realigned.
  • The great aim of leadership is to lead followers continually into a deeper and more comprehensive love for what is most real, most true, most right, and most important.
  • The most faithful and effective pastors are those who are driven by deep and energizing convictions. Their preaching and teaching are fueled by their passionate beliefs and sense of calling. With eternity hanging in the balance, they know what to do. They see every neighborhood as a mission field and every individual as someone who needs to hear the gospel. They cannot wait until Sunday comes and they can enter the pulpit again, ready to set those convictions loose.
  • When the mission is ambiguous and the beliefs of the organization are nebulous, passion dissipates quickly.
  • Every great leader is a great teacher, and the greatest leaders seize every opportunity to teach well.
  • Ideas do drive the world, and beliefs determine actions.
  • If you don’t have a message, don’t try to lead. If you do have a message, your task is to communicate it effectively.
  • The goal of communication is not to impress but to convey meaning and purpose.
  • Leadership requires a constant flow of intelligence, ideas, and information. There is no way to gain the basics of leadership without reading.
  • Leaders get things done. Faithful leaders get the right things done in the right way.
  • The essence of leadership is motivating and influencing followers to get the right things done—putting conviction into corporate action.
  • Any leader unwilling to force change is destined for ineffectiveness.
  • If the leader’s main task is to lead by conviction, then the convictions must be more central and prominent than the leader’s personality.
  • Leaders are the stewards of vision, conviction, beliefs, and strategic decisions.
  • Effective leaders give intensive personal attention to the budget because that’s where the real convictions of the organization show up.
  • Speech is the currency of great leadership.
  • That is a central principle of leadership. When leaders speak, we speak for the movement, the organization, the company, the congregation, or the institution we lead.
  • We have turned to a God that we can use rather than a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us and for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well. And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy. We imagine that he is benign, that he will acquiesce as we toy with his reality and co-opt him in the promotion of our ventures and careers.
  • Before making a decision, the leader’s preliminary task is to determine if a decision actually has to be made.
  • Leaders take words seriously because we live and die by them.

All in all, this is a leadership book worth reading.