When it comes to great leadership, sometimes the defining factor can lie in something as simple as three little letters at the end of your job title.
In his book, The Motive, author Patrick Lencioni gets back to leadership basics. He challenges leaders who have lost momentum to consider the “why” question that is used to get them out of bed in the morning. One of the best takeaways is the difference between being a chief executive officer and chief executing officer.
We all know what a chief executive officer is. But is that really the way we want to be described? Sure, the title can sound impressive and intimidating, but does it ring with an innovative perspective and tenacity for growth? “Executive” is a static term that doesn’t indicate any continued action, and the image of a CEO rarely comes coupled with words like “innovative” or “inspirational.” It actually implies your work is done, that you’ve gained the position, and are now resting on your laurels or keeping things even keel.
But if you simply drop the end of executive and add an I-N-G, you’ve become a chief executing officer. Now people expect you to steer things with your gaze on the horizon, to continue a long term process of enacting the vision you had when you first began. You’re continually in process. You never tire of pursuing better outcomes. You still have work to do, and you’re personally responsible for and eager to accomplish the goals that it entails.
I’d like to take this business principle a step closer to home. As a husband and a father, I believe that showing my wife and kids’ endless support and love will revolutionize their entire futures. By switching my mindset from being the “Chief Sacrifice Officer” in my home to the “Chief Sacrificing Officer,” I am actively switching from a concept that sounds nice and official on paper to one that will help me enact positive change in my decision-making. I’m not just the guy in charge; I’m the guy figuring out practical ways to serve my family.
Likewise, it sounds like a great idea to say I’m a servant leader in my community, but I will do a better job of really taking the time to care for people if I think of myself as a serving leader. As a leader in everyday life, I don’t want to be simply planning ways to care for people when I feel like it, but I’m taking the time to bless them and serve them with the appropriate response exactly when the need arises.
I’m not just a mobilizer for racial reconciliation. I am mobilizing for racial reconciliation. My goal is not just to create institutional reforms for equality in our nation, but also that every interaction I have personally would bring about a better understanding of and deeper care for those who are in need of justice, safety, and support. The power of I-N-G is the power of doing, being, growing, loving, and learning.
What is a role you feel called to fill at home, at work, or in your community? Or is there a role that you have filled for a long time, but which has grown stale or lackluster? You may not be a mother or a father, but you can be called to mothering and fathering those in need. You may not live next door to someone, but you can practice neighboring everywhere you go and with everyone you meet. There may be people whose futures depend on you stepping up your game and actively fill a role you have resisted or rested from. I challenge you to pray for wisdom to see who you are designed to be and who you have been given the authority to become. Then come up with a simple title that embodies the essence of that role and make sure you adjust it to add I-N-G.
When the religious leaders tried to criticize Jesus for healing people on the day when everyone was supposed to be resting, he replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” Don’t be content simply as a Christ-follower but choose instead to always be Christ-following. Be constantly turning to look for his guidance at all times and in all circumstances.
Embrace, the power of I-N-G.