Caught vs Taught

If you’ve raised kids, you probably understand that it’s not just about what you tell them, it’s also being aware that they’re watching you as you go about your daily life. Leadership works the same way.

I never told my son what sports teams to follow. I’m an Alabama Crimson Tide fan living in southern California. I’m a Boston Celtic fan in Laker land, and a St. Louis Cardinals fan among the Dodgers and Angels. (You could say I’m an eclectic sports fan.) And not once did I sit down and teach my son Nolan to be a Crimson Tide or Celtics fan. What he “caught” was a dad who was passionate about his teams.

In the same way, I try to model leadership rather than teach it. I demonstrate vulnerability so that others will learn it’s okay to be vulnerable. I participate as part of our staff team by giving others positions of authority. I want them to be passionate about what I’m passionate about – not because I tell them to, but because they see it. If I own my failures, it gives them permission to admit their mistakes. If I bring joy and I bring peace, and I talk about who I’ve invited into my life; if I’m telling stories about having people over to my house, or admitting I need to confess something, I hope they catch something I’m not teaching them.

We can also catch what not to do, because every leader is imperfect. You may catch things that aren’t worth passing on. When that happens, search for truth. Ask God to give you wisdom. There may be things you just know in your gut might not be the right thing to do, and what you’re learning is to discern how God wired you, and how he wants you to be a better leader than those who have led you. Our goal is to be the best leader we can. I want the people behind me to be a better leader than I am.

What do you catch your leaders doing? What do you see your staff and leaders do that you love? I encourage you to watch them as they serve, to catch them leading and loving well – maybe sometimes even better than you!

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