We are all leaders, whether we have a formal position of authority or not. We all have the opportunity to influence others and to inspire them to positive action. Here are some principles of effective leadership I have learned from the Book of Mormon:
“I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”
Great leaders inspire people to do their best work. They do this by speaking with confidence and enthusiasm about potential positive outcomes, and by reminding people of their noblest motives.
The people of King Limhi had tried, unsuccessfully, multiple times to free themselves from bondage to the Lamanites. Each time, they had failed and had suffered significant losses. But when a messenger arrived from their home country, Limhi was able to embolden his people to try one more time. He reminded them that God had preserved and delivered their ancestors, and he told them that he believed they could also be delivered. This time, they were successful. His words inspired them to achieve a successful outcome (Mosiah 7:18-20).
“He rent his coat.”
Sometimes, words aren’t enough, and leaders need to find creative ways to galvanize other people to action. Captain Moroni ripped his coat and wrote a message on it, reminding his people of their most fundamental values, which were in jeopardy unless they were willing to defend them:
In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children (Alma 46:12).
As he traveled from city to city waving this banner, “the people came running,” and ripped their own coats to signify their commitment to the cause (Alma 46:21-22).
“I did make tools.”
Leaders are proactive. They don’t wait for certainty before taking action.
Nephi’s brothers did not believe that he could build a ship. They eventually agreed to help him, but early on, while they were still grumbling, he got to work, forging tools which they would use for the project. His efforts paved the way for them to work together to complete the project (1 Nephi 17:15-18).
“I am like as yourselves.”
One of the most beloved leaders in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin, made it a point to see himself as one of the people. Unlike King Noah, who enriched himself at the expense of his people, Benjamin labored side by side with his people and refused to think of himself as different from them. “I am like as yourselves,” he said, “subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11).
An effective leader refuses to allow positions of influence to go to his or her head.
“These twelve whom I have chosen from among you…to be your servants”
When Jesus Christ selected twelve men to lead His church, He referred to them as the servants of the people they led (3 Nephi 12:1). When Mormon tells us about a group of Nephite missionaries who traveled to Lamanite lands, he says that Ammon was “the chief among them.” Then, he corrects himself: “…or rather he did administer unto them” (Alma 17:18).
A Christlike leader is a servant to the people he or she leads.
Today, I will strive to be a more effective leader. I will speak up and help others catch a vision of what they can accomplish. I will avoid letting positions of authority go to my head, and I will serve the people I lead.