The 40 Percent Rule

I had a really great visit with my buddy Jason this morning at breakfast. He's the Pastor of Small Groups at Chase Oaks Church in Plano, TX, and is one of the small number of guys in my life who is a true friend. He doesn't believe the best things I say because he knows I'm a liar. But he doesn't believe the worst things I say because he thinks better of me than that.    

We had a conversation about a subject I've talked about before, but don't think I've blogged about before.  So, while it's fresh I wanted to get it down. 

One of the unique challenges of servant-leadership is credibility. Unless you're holding something over their head (like a paycheck), people will only do what you do. They'll listen to the things you say, but will do the things you do. 

The thing is, I think the rate of return on the degree to which they follow is only about 40 percent. If you're trying to lead people toward being excited about something, the majority will only ever get about 40 percent as excited as you. If you're trying to get people to put in time towards something, the majority will only spend 40 percent as much time as you put into it. 

Obviously, there's no way to measure those things, so 40 is an abstract guess on my part. But I think it's pretty close. 

What does that mean? It means we as servant leaders need to carefully consider the degree to which we lead as much as we consider the direction in which we lead.  It's absolutely important to lead in the right direction, but it's also important to pave the way at a high level of commitment. Haphazard leadership will always produce even more haphazard followers.