Why Nehemiah’s 8 Leadership Pillars Still Hold Up
Question: Given all the uncertainties before you, what would you say is the biggest goal your organization needs to achieve in the next 50-100 days?
Now, imagine you could entrust the entire project to someone like Nehemiah who oversaw the rebuild of an imposing two-and-a-half mile-long, eight-feet-wide wall around the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Even though Nehemiah hasn’t been around for 2,500 years, he left behind a set of blueprints and the story of how he and a very talented, dedicated team collaborated with God to pull off a building project everyone knew was humanly impossible.
And that’s where Nehemiah’s eight leadership pillars come in. As you read through his story, you’ll see how all eight offer you the strategic wisdom needed to achieve your big goal.
Bonus: While Nehemiah doesn’t mention it directly, everything in this storied achievement points to increasing the level of employee engagement, which research confirms is the #1 determining factor that can make or break your workplace culture.
- Be open, honest, and affirming with your highly capable people explaining the reasons behind major decisions, and they will feel their work is important.
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So, they strengthened their hands for the good work” (Nehemiah 2:17-28).
- Cultivate Christian fellowship through Christ-first decision-making.
Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem” (2:20).
- Commit yourself and your people to excellence through delivering clear expectations, delegating authority, accountability, valuing diversity, and opportunities for promotion (Chapter 3).
- Provide rewarding compensation to your people:
Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house (3:28).
- Expect, acknowledge, and celebrate the practical results of a flourishing workplace setting:
So, we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work (4:6).
- Lead and model a call to pray throughout the work.
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night (4:9).
- As a good shepherd, you know your flock.
In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves, we will not be able to rebuild the wall” (4:10).
- Work as a team and realize your work and continuing achievements meet the needs of those you serve. Encourage your people to solve work-related problems and have a plan to respond to harassment.
So, in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (4:13-15).
If Nehemiah suddenly walked in and sat down with you (social distancing, of course), how would you glean from his wisdom, counsel, and prayer over the next 100 days? Remember, this is a leader who oversaw the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in 52 days! Nehemiah looks to you and says, “Why don’t you lead us in a word of prayer.” What do you hear yourself saying?
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