L.E.A.D. | A Framework for Leadership


An idea talked about endlessly. Written about relentlessly. And misunderstood constantly.

Some would say (or at least act like) leadership is about position. If you’ve got the title and the authority, then you are a leader.

Some would say it’s about serving. That a leaders role really is about serving the people that are following.

To some extent, both are true! But also false. A title doesn’t make you a leader anymore than putting on cleats makes you an athlete. And, at times, leadership is not about serving followers, but rather about making hard and unpopular decisions and taking actions that only you can take.

At the end of the day, I like simple definitions that describe broad reality. So, for the purposes of this article and my approach to leadership, I ascribe to John Maxwell’s simple definition of leadership:

Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.

John C Maxwell

Ken Blanchard reinforced this idea when he said “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. Ken Blanchard #Leadership Click To Tweet

It’s simple…if you influence another, you are a leader. That makes all of us leaders in some form or another. What’s different is the level of leadership, the breadth of our leadership, and the extent of impact that our leadership has. We’ll talk more about these things in future articles.

L.E.A.D. | A Framework for Leadership

What I’d like to offer in this article is a simple, yet effective, framework that any leader can use, in any environment, in any situation, to lead well. Remember is through a simple acronym: L. E. A. D. The letters stand for these phrases:

Lead Yourself First
Engage Your People
Advance Vision, Mission & Values
Develop Growing Leaders

Lead Yourself First

What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Hopefully, things like character, personal growth, mindset, discipline, habits, and many other similar things quickly enter your mind as avenues to lead yourself well. Likewise, the absence of these things results in leading yourself poorly.

The gist of this idea is this: you cannot lead others well, whether it’s your own family or a major corporation, if you do not lead yourself first.

Engage Your People

Too often, “leaders” try to lead through directives. This is my decision…go do it. Too many “leaders” have too much distance or too many barriers between themselves and the people they are supposedly leading.

You simply cannot lead well if you don’t know your people. Understanding the uniqueness of the individuals you are leading, the dynamics of the team who is following, and the positives and negatives of the environment they are occupying, are all part of engaging your people. If you don’t do this, you will not lead as well as you can.

You simply cannot lead well if you don't know your people. Greg J Baird #Leadership Click To Tweet

Advance Vision, Mission & Values

Whether you are leading your family, a ministry, a non-profit, a small or large team, or an entire organization, your vision, mission & values have to be more than a plaque on the wall.

These things are truly vital to the success of your leadership. You must know them. You must live them. And then you must advance them with every conversation you have, every decision you make, and every action you take.

This is not negotiable to good leadership.

Develop Growing Leaders

Ultimately, the measure of our leadership will be determined by how well our followers turn into leaders.

Ralph Nader said “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” This is the premise we all need to start with. Our leadership ought not to be about keep followers followers, but turning followers into leaders.

Ultimately, the measure of our leadership will be determined by how well our followers turn into leaders. Greg J Baird #Leadership Click To Tweet

In future articles, we will dive deep into all of these areas. We’ll talk much more about the “how” of each one of these four critical areas.

But here’s the bottom line with this framework: regardless of your role as a leader, if you apply this framework to your leadership, you will elevate your leadership.


It doesn’t matter what you lead – your family or an entire organization – if you learn to effectively do these four things, you will lead well.

Of course, there are many other skills to learn as a leader. Communication. Decision making. Strategy. And the list goes on. But these are, generally, personal skills that you need to develop. This framework provides the avenues that every leader must pursue in order to lead well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! And I look forward to exploring leadership, personal growth, team development and organizational health in future articles.

I invite you to join me! Follow on social media and/or subscribe to be notified of the latest articles and lots of other goodies soon to come.

Greg Baird
Greg Baird

Greg J Baird is a strategic leader with 25+ years experience developing, implementing and communicating domestic and international initiatives in the church, non-profit, enterprise non-profit and business sectors. He is a John C Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer, and a DISC Certified Trainer & Consultant.

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