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Chapter XI Jethro (Insight) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

If you take the time to read Exodus 18:1-24, you can learn a valuable lesson about a critical leadership component from Jethro the Bible identifies as a very intuitive leader.

Possessing superior intuition is definitely a valuable asset to a leader, but where does a person acquire a highly tuned intuition? Well, in my humble opinion, it comes primarily from two sources. The first source is directly as a gift from God. This is exemplified through one's inherently natural ability and the second (which is also a requirement for fine tuning the intuition received directly as a heavenly endowment) is from experience, training, mentoring and the acquiring of skills through extensive practical application.

The acquisition of this Trait of Insight or intuition is really a process that begins at birth and continues to develop throughout a person's entire life. An accomplished and intuitive leader will continue to read, study and learn, not merely from books, but from all the people with whom they interact as well.

Most people will acknowledge that Moses was a good leader, but I think history also indicates he was not a natural one. Nevertheless, as Moses' leadership steadily improved, so did his intuition. On the other hand his father-in-law Jethro was a natural leader. When confronted with a problem unlike any he had ever before seen (i.e. Leading more than a million disgruntled and displaced slaves) he seemed to know exactly how to handle the situation. Everyone is born with certain natural instincts or talents, but not all people have natural leadership instincts. For example a person may be gifted by God as a giver. In their case they can sense when another person is in need and a person who is gifted as a prophet or encourager, as some would prefer to label the gift, can sense when a person is in need of support, mercy or comfort. Those who are gifted with the character traits that will allow them to become extraordinary leaders will have the tendency to view and evaluate every encounter with difficulty or choice as an opportunity to grow and also with a leadership predisposition.

Let's look at five key things that intuitive leaders must be able to perceive "on the fly":

Situations - A valuable leader must be capable of quickly sizing up any situation, just like Jethro, who after watching Moses lead the Israelites for only one day, and without hiring a consultant, forming a committee or authorizing an extensive and expensive government research project, instantly perceived the presence of an existing leadership deficiency. For a leader, the key is not always coming up with the solution to the problem, but possessing the ability to rapidly realize that a situation requires their immediate attention and intervention, then initiating the corrective action process.

Trends - A close examination of Exodus 18:18 reveals that Jethro rapidly anticipates where Moses is headed by attempting to do everything by himself. You might say today that Jethro "reads the handwriting on the wall". He knows that if the same trend continues the way it appears to be going, a disastrous breakdown of leadership will occur resulting in defeat for the Jewish nation instead of victory.

Resources - A wise leader always needs to understand how to effectively use whatever resources they are given to their maximum efficiency. Jethro saw just what the greatest assets were and used them as foundational building blocks in developing his advice to Moses. He saw the great desire to do God's will in Moses' heart, he saw God's favor on the Israelites, and he saw the God provided leaders among the people themselves. Thus his plan and proffered advice was based on utilizing everything of value that was readily available.

People - The skillful reading of the motives and abilities of the people you lead and serve is always a critical factor in dealing with people. Some people who try to lead can only understand this, while some others can both understand the principle and apply it. One particularly important cornerstone in the foundation of leadership is the ability of the leader to understand the difference between empowering others with your ability to read, understand and direct your vision and simply manipulating them to accomplish your goals. You see, empowered leaders remember how they felt at being empowered, and will ultimately empower others, while manipulated people retain nothing but bitterness and resentment over being manipulated. Manipulated people learn to manipulate rather than to lead. The perceptive Jethro merely suggested that those who had the ability to do the job should be allowed to do the job. When your leadership tenure is over do you want to leave behind a legend, a liability or a legacy? What you bequeath to future generations will be dependant on and reflective of your character. Will your leadership withstand that test of time? Remember that when you leave this world, all that goes with you is your character.

Themselves - A leader who does not understand their own strengths, weaknesses, motivations and calling will never be able to lead anyone, even himself. Sometimes, realizing you are not the right person for the job is not only a huge blessing and the right decision but the mark of an insightful and strong leader as well.

In reality, intuition helps the good leader become a great leader. The Bible is filled with examples of God's ordained leaders acting with intuitive leadership. Jethro used his intuition to improve the leadership of Moses while several other leaders used their own God provided intuitive gifts. Nehemiah merely looked at the wall in Jerusalem and knew what needed to be done and what to do. Joseph understood Pharaoh's dream and knew what it meant for Egypt and the other lands and knew how to prepare for the future famine. Intuition whether it is naturally or intentionally acquired is a valuable tool to any leader anywhere who uses it wisely.

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