The Best Kept Secret at iGo
You won’t find it spelled out in our mission statement. We haven’t turned it into a fancy video. We’ve chosen not to put it on a billboard on I-35. In many ways, it seems like some kind of secret.
But leadership development is a huge part of what iGo does. It is woven through the fabric of our training, our mobilization, our systems, our strategies. In some ways, leadership development could be viewed as simply a by-product of our mission. But that view overlooks the intentionality behind it.
I call it the best kept secret simply because we don’t make it known clearly that we are right in the middle of raising up next generation leaders. This is very much the heart of what iGo is all about, and it’s time to bring it into the light.
Here are 3 paradoxes that highlight how we intentionally develop leaders at iGo.
1. Simple, but not easy. The core of our leadership development strategy is simple. We let students lead. No really, we do. I’m not talking about inconsequential leadership tasks here. I am talking about big responsibilities and big assignments. If you decided to join up on our Super Summer Global team this summer, you would be greeted at the airport by students. But they wouldn’t just be the welcoming committee, they would be your leaders. They would guide you through the airport, get you to the right transportation, and even help you exchange your money (which they would know was at the top of your to-do list). These same students (some of them as young as 16) would lead you the entire time you were in Munich. They would introduce you to restaurant owners they have become friends with, teach you how to pray on-sight with insight, and teach you all kinds of tips about the people and the culture you are engaging.
Letting students lead is a simple strategy…but it is far from easy. Sometimes these students make mistakes. One adult complained that his JSI got their entire team on the wrong train going the wrong way, and he didn’t realize it until they were at the next stop. #thehorror If we are going to develop students into leaders by letting them lead, then we have to make sure we are engaging them at every level of this process. We train them and we provide immediate instruction and feedback along the way. It isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth it.
2. Leading through serving. The bulk of our training is focused on the foundational idea of servant leadership. It is the leadership modeled for and taught to us by Christ, and it is the end goal for iGo as we develop the next generation of leaders. We want to see iGo students become the most amazing and most humble servant leaders in every field and every endeavor. iGo students learn servant leadership and take it with them into the local church, their home, their marriages, their parenting, the marketplace, the classroom, the mission field, and who knows where else. These are the kind of leaders that will change the world, and these are the kind of leaders that iGo strives to develop.
3. The first shall be last. iGo student leaders learn that sometimes leadership is getting out in front and saying, “Follow me!” There are plenty of situations and circumstances where the leader has to literally take the lead. However, there are just as many times (maybe even more) where true leadership takes place from the back of the pack. We hand leadership responsibilities off to our students, and we want to see them do the same. iGo student leaders set the pace when they need to, but more often than not, you will find them behind other students pushing them into leadership roles of their own. After all, the students they are leading will learn much more by stepping up and trying it themselves than they ever will just watching their leader do it for them. Leading from the back…and the front is a crucial part of our leadership development strategy.
With these three paradoxical ideas guiding us, iGo intentionally develops next generation leaders through our mobilization internships (Jimmy), our overseas internships (JSI), our Launch Box leaders (Launch Crew), and our training of team leaders for all of our overseas teams.
The secret is out now. Aren’t you relieved? Go ahead and let it out yourself. If you are an iGo alum, or an iGo parent, or a minister that has had students go with iGo, please share with us how you have seen and experienced this best kept secret at iGo. How have you seen iGo develop leaders? Hit that comment button and let us know your story.