The Leader with a Staff: Lessons from Moses’ Leadership Model (Part 2)
Haven identified Moses as the leader with a staff and then identifying some lessons from his leadership model in part 1, we will continue in part 2 with other lessons from Moses leadership model. These points are to enable any leader to reach the pinnacle of his career and serve his community better.
Never flag in zeal
Moses had a long time in service. Beginning his service as a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian, he was made President of Israel, to lead them out of Egypt. He remained in service for the entire 40 years they wandered in the desert.
If anyone had the power to boast, it was Moses. God was using him mightly to perform wonder. When he was challenged, God ruled in his favour. He spoke with God as a person would speak to his friend. His face radiates so brightly that he would cover his face with a veil each time he comes down from the mountain.
Yet Moses remained cool-headed, focused without seeing himself as a dictator or an emperor. He never flagged in zeal. He remained steadfast in tribulations and criticisms. The leader with a staff.
How many of us would live with all these privileges and still remain cool? Just try to make someone a class rep in a typical High School and see how the person feels out of this world. Not to talk of some of our leaders, especially in Africa who see themselves as Emperors that’s deserve the title of divi filius huios theou, and imperial worship because they are in power.
Important conversations must be face to face
Official things must be treated officially. In this age of social media, some persons would like to chat up every kind thing on social media. As much as it connects us to people all over the world, it can also create distance between people sitting adjacent to themselves. Virtual interaction does not have in it the body language and that intimate sense we get when we are discussing with a person physically.
When Moses confronted Pharaoh, he did that in person. When he spoke to God, it was in person, according to the Vulgate text, they spoke facie ad faciem. The connection goes deeper when the interaction gets tactile. That is how you know a leader.
It is one thing to have something to say, and it is another to say that thing through the proper medium. It is one thing to correct people, to give them feedback. Yet it is another thing to do that through the right means. It takes wisdom for a person to determine then when and how of passing a message across. When this is not done properly, the message could be discarded even if it’s actually a beneficial one.
Find a worthy deputy
Have you noticed that in the Old Testament, siblings do not have good relationship record? Cain killed Abel, Jacob manipulated Esau, and Joseph the dreamer was sold into slavery by his brothers.
Moses was fortunate to get along with his elder brother Aaron. Since Moses was stammering badly, his brother became his mouthpiece. Aaron spoke before Pharaoh. He also helped Moses to keep the people of Israel calm each time he goes to speak with God on the mountain. He helps to calm the temper of Moses down each time he gets mad at his people. He helped Moses and be focused on the right thing.
Moses handed over to Joshua the position of leadership. Not his kid bother nor his son. As a leader, you must choose people based on competence, not family or friendship ties. That is the only way our projects will last long after we are gone. A leader must have a capable assistant who he/she can entrust responsibilities to and feel safe doing that.
Do you have a good assistant? Seek out for one.
Meet the people where they are
God gave to Moses the Decalogue on Mount Sinai. You know, Moses could have just read it aloud from that mountain top. Or maybe make copies of it and sell it to the people of Israel, with the clause that its compulsory requirement from God, for those seeking to enter the promised land.
Yet, this humble leader came down from the mountain and spoke to his people in the language they understood. He went about them, showing them what the law means. He demonstrates rather than just telling them. This connection with the people was very important because the people had seen the smoke and aura of God’s presence and thus, they needed to see the human face of God. That was what Moses showed them.
Every ladder must know how to connect with his own people. He/she must know how best to transmit complex ideas to the people. Do not speak in high sounding words if what you are saying will make more sense to the people if spoken in vernacular. Get to know your people by their name where it is possible. At times, personal contact speaks more than sermonizing.
Know what the Boss wants
I think everyone has a boss. The boss of Moses is God. It is to Him that Moses is answerable to; and as such, Moses had to know what exactly his boss wants.
When the Israelites happened to mould the Golden Calf in a desire for a miracle and out of frustration, God got angry at them. God then questions their loyalty to Moses. Moses, however, was able to reassure God that the situation will improve. So Moses said, in effect, “What will everyone think if the people You chose and You freed from Egypt are destroyed?” God knows it will diminish God’s name in the world. So God changes. The covenant is sustained.
You must know your boss needs and help him/her achieve those needs even when things get tensed. Meeting the needs of your boos calls for creativity, availability and responsiveness. You must not wait for you to be told what to do before you get them done. “A good daughter”, an African proverb says, “knows the mind of the mother and will ensure she makes her mu proud.”
Give constructive criticism
Obvious some persons do not like to criticise. They feel they would be hurting the feeling of the other person. More so, since they are not perfect in themselves, why would they be correcting another person?
There are others who look out for every opportunity to criticise the other person, just to make them feel superior to others. This is even a more terrible position.
Moses teaches us that constructive criticism is appropriate and helps development. It is constructive when it is done appropriately and with love at its base. Not a remark made just to belittle others or make yourself look holier than others. In Leviticus 19:18, we read, “You shall reprove your fellow . . . and you shall not bear a grudge . . . you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Constructive criticism can be an expression of caring and even love. It demonstrates a desire to lead and help people realize their potential.
Leadership is not for the lily-livered. It is for those who can stand out and let their voices be heard. It is for those who can courageously speak the truth and at the same time, show love while doing that.
Learning the Moses’ leadership model is about understanding what makes Moses the leader with a staff. This model can go a long way to bridge the gap between leaders and followers in modern time.