Pursuing ‘R.A.R.E. Leadership’ In The Workplace

By Rick Boxx

In their book, Rare Leadership in the Workplace, authors Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder use RARE as an acronym for how to become a mature leader. The first R stands for Remain Relational.” I would like to explore those principles from my own vocational experience.

While in public accounting, a manager thought I had undermined her authority. Instead of rebuking me personally and appropriately, I was called into her office so a partner and this manager could humiliate and belittle me. If she had remained relational, I would have learned the necessary lesson and corrected my actions. Instead, feeling humiliated and angry, I quit my job immediately.

The Bible speaks to this. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When problems surface at work, they can be handled as tasks, or you can remain relational, solving the problem without damaging the relationship. 

The A in “Rare Leadership” stands for Act Like Yourself.” A former boss of mine modeled this quality when a customer began verbally assaulting one of our bank employees. My boss stepped in, confronted the customer, and when the argument escalated, he gave the customer a check for the total in his bank account and closed the account. My boss acted like himself, the adult in the room.

Jesus declared, “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Strong, mature leaders act like adults. They are not easily manipulated, and they are protectors, not predators.

The second R in “RARE Leadership” stands for Return to Joy.” Years ago, I asked an employee how she was doing. Although she answered, “Fine,” I could tell she was not “fine” – something obviously was troubling her. Looking into her eyes, I said, “How are you really doing?” Tears welled up as she began to share her fears and concerns. She later said that simple act helped her return to joy, even though her circumstances were still difficult.

We find this principle taught in Proverbs 15:23, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!” As mature leaders, it is important that we cultivate awareness of those around us who are currently living in fear and desperately need some joy.

The E in “RARE Leadership” stands for “Endure Hardship Well. James Parker was named CEO of Southwest Airlines just months before 9/11, the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Most airlines reacted by immediately began laying off people and slashing expenses. Parker, however, did not lay off any employees, nor did he reduce their compensation. Instead, he gave calm and steady leadership to his team. He proved that Southwest valued their team above the fiscal bottom line. 

Great leaders are not recognized most during times of flourishing. Instead, they become known as great because they endured hard times. As Hebrews 10:36 admonishes, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Based on the principles above, would you consider yourself a RARE leader?

Copyright 2022, Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from “UBN Integrity Moments”, a commentary on faith at work issues. Visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org to sign up for UBN Integrity Moments emails. UBN is a faith at work ministry serving the international small business community.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Because “Monday Manna” is made available in many different languages, the acronym used for “RARE Leadership” may not translate well into every language. But the point is, these four principles are not as common as they should be in today’s marketplace. Which of these principles seems to you to be the “rarest”?
  2. What in your mind enables a good leader to remain relational? Can you think of an example of someone who is successful in doing this? If so, describe that individual. How effective are you in remaining relational?
  3. The principle, “Return to Joy,” does not necessarily being able to make people feel happy about their circumstances, especially if they remain unresolved. However, it is suggested they can still experience joy. What do you think is the difference between happiness and joy?
  4. How would you define “perseverance”? How does this quality, especially during times of great trial and difficulty, enhance a leader’s effectiveness and credibility?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Galatians 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4, 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4