Who’s Holding Your Ladder?

Great article by Dr Samuel Chand

By Dr. Samuel Chand

Waiting for someone to call me into the auditorium, I stared out the window. As I meditated on the points I wanted to cover as a featured speaker a nearby leadership conference, something in the street below caught my attention.

Who’s Holding Your Ladder?


A man stood on a ladder painting, which was not that uncommon of a sight. I smiled, remembering my student days in college. I had spent my summers doing that kind of work. However, I couldn’t take my eyes off the man. For several minutes, I watched his graceful motions as he moved his brush and roller across the surface.

As I watched, I noticed that this painter was only covering a limited area. He stretched as far as he could to the left, to the right and even reached above his head. It also occurred to me that he was only going to the height that he was comfortable at, even though the extension ladder he was using could reach much higher.

From my painting experience, I remembered that once I was on the ladder and had the necessary resources, I painted a much larger area before taking the additional time needed to climb down and relocate the ladder. It was an efficient method.

“Why isn’t he going higher to paint all the way up?” I asked myself. “What would allow him to go higher?” Then I saw the reason: no one was holding his ladder. By himself, the painter couldn’t go any further. He had done everything he could by himself.

He needed help.

As I watched his graceful strokes, I realized the leadership parallels. Whether we’re talking about churches, businesses or non-profit organizations, the effectiveness of a leader depends on those who are in support roles; the persons holding the ladder.

The height that a visionary leader can reach on the ladder to their vision is not controlled by the leader’s capabilities. It’s not even controlled by how inspiring their vision may be.

It’s controlled by who’s holding the ladder.

Then another thought struck me: Those who hold the ladders are as important as the leaders themselves. The visionaries could have all the training possible, the most expensive equipment, years of experience and knowledge about painting, and a blend of expertise and passion about their craft. However, that’s not the deciding factor.

The ladder holder determines the height to which the ladder climber ascends. A ladder holder who may be very capable with a 20-foot extension ladder (or vision) may not be the person you want holding your 45-foot extension ladder (a new or enlarged vision).

As you continue to grow and build your church, business, or organization, continue to look for ladder holders; people who meet the necessary qualifications and know how to lead, not simply manage. Old ladder holders are rarely adequate at holding new ladders.

Dr. Samuel Chand is sought after by churches and businesses alike for his pragmatic and authentic approach to producing leaders. A “dream releaser” and consultant to many of today’s emerging leaders, Chand is the author of seven books, including his latest release, “Ladder Focus.” You can discover more about Chand at http://www.samchand.com.

Copyright © 2008 Dr. Samuel Chand. All rights reserved.

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