Leadership is a tricky thing. It doesn't happen because one has the most impressive title — President, Executive Director, CEO, Mom, Elder, or Senior Pastor. The most impressive office does not a leader make — corner with glass, monster desk, art on display. Leadership is subtler. And it is essential to success.

The one thing every leader in any field must be able to do is create the organization's culture. A negative to neutral culture yields minimal gains to huge losses. Put the same personnel in a positive culture, and outstanding results begin to emerge. Here is a case in point from Major League Baseball.

Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers was named American League Manager of the Year a few days ago. He is now one of the few people to have won that prestigious award in both the National and American Leagues. Leyland led a team that the previous year seemed to be in a death spiral to a 95-67 record in 2006 and its first World Series competition in 22 years.

In his typical self-deprecating way, he gave the team, the owners, and the fans the bulk of the credit. He even praised the previous manager who had been fired after 2005's dismal season. Pressed to account for his own contribution, he finally named it. "I believe if I did one thing right, I almost forced these players to believe how good they were," said Leyland. "I instilled the confidence in them that in the past they tiptoed, and now they were ready to crash the door down."

The manager created the culture. He took players with skills that had been sharpened from Little League to the Major Leagues and instilled confidence. It wasn't cute shirts and locker room signs. It wasn't team meetings with chants. It was a subtle, intangible "feel" that operates at a level below the surface. Yet everybody entering that culture senses it and is energized by it.

It happens in families. Mom and Dad make it a safe, nurturing place, and the kids are seen to smile and heard to laugh often. There are lots of hugs. Home is the favorite place for every single one of the adults and children.

It happens in businesses. The stimulus to achievement isn't criticism or threats. Good leaders notice and affirm the positive contributions of everyone from top sales person to new support person to maintenance staff.

It happens in churches. Under Christ as its head, a community of faith functions so that every part is valued. There is a palpable atmosphere that even visitors sense when they walk through the door. The vibes are positive.

Leadership doesn't bully and try to make others yield. It lifts heads and builds confidence so people can perform well. It creates a healthy culture where every person feels valued and wants to contribute to the success of the whole.

It lifts heads and builds confidence!
Good leaders don't build cult followers. They build confident people.

Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13 NLT)