This post on leadership is inspired by the story of the historical King David. There are many sources you can refer to for the story of this popular historic figure. This BBC page is only one of many.
According to ancient scripts, David was the last child in a large family of many brothers. By some stroke of fortune, he was chosen to become then next appointed king of his land. Prior to that, his had the humble job of tending to his father’s flock of sheep out in the wild country. As a shepherd, his helpless animals depended on him for protection and for direction.
There was a long period of waiting between David being selected to become a king and his actual appointment and crowning appointment. This period was not smooth sailing. David was hunted and persecuted by the king he was to replace because the king was afraid of losing his position to someone younger, more capable and more popular.
When the neighbouring country’s army – which happened to have the tallest, most thickset and much-feared soldier called Goliath – attacked David’s country no one was willing to go to war except David whose previous experience included killing lions with his bare hands to protect his father’s sheep from being devoured. The story goes that David shot a pebble from a sling, which hit the giant soldier squarely in the forehead killing him instantly. His conquest earned him more popularity and eventually, when the reigning king died at war, David was crowned the new leader.
Leadership Lessons from historical King David
David’s leadership capabilities were developed long before he was chosen and appointed king of his land. His choice of using a sling and stone against an armed instead of the army artillery available to him, his willingness to fight where everyone else was afraid and his unshakeable confidence in his past experience of fighting animals in the wild all pointed to a man who was qualified to be a leader long before he was given a title.
His new role as king was not vastly different from his previous role as a shepherd. Whereas he was previously in charge strategically protecting and guiding sheep, his new role required him to strategically guide a nation. So really he moved from one role with less responsibility to a similar role with greater responsibility and more risk.
His acquisition of the new title of ‘King’ was more for the benefit of the people he ruled that for him. His loss of the title would not diminish his leadership qualities or capabilities.
Kind David’s tenure was a mixture of successes and failures. Like many leaders he accomplished much but not without some grave mistakes. But all in all, history recognises this king as one of the greatest that ever lived.
Here are 6 leadership lessons that stood out for me from the story of this ancient king:
- We Are Leaders Long Before We Are Appointed to Lead
Our experiences unleash and reinforce our strengths and capabilities revealing them layer-by-layer. Often, we successfully occupy positions we are prepared for in mind or character. A good leader is often prepared to become one long before s/he is appointed to leader others. Our experiences are our training ground for excellence.
- Your Current Position is Preparing You for Future Responsibilities
Never take your current position lightly because it is your training ground for the promotion you may desire. Had David not been an excellent shepherd he would not have made an excellent king.
- Titles Mean Nothing Without Competence and Capability
Only in short-sighted organisations do people get promoted for titles without proving their capability or competence. David’s ability to protect his father’s flock from wild animals as well as his willingness to fight a giant on behalf of his people proved he had the heart, mind and spirit of a leader. What are your points of reference for leadership roles you desire?
- You May Be Ready for Leadership But Your Place of Leadership May Not Be Ready for You
Sometimes, although you may be ready to be a leader, your place of leadership is not ready for you and you need to be patient in the process of preparing for your promotion.
- With Greater Responsibility Comes Greater Risks and Challenges
The process of your promotion may bring more challenges than you are willing to welcome. Only your resilience during this period will help you attain and retain your desired goal of promotion. As you prepare to lead others, prepare to also lead yourself through the journey of leading with impact and influence