Elder Mark A. Bragg, a General Authority Seventy, spoke to the BYU campus community about the principles of Christlike leadership in a devotional on Feb. 7.
He began by recounting his experience helping an elderly gentleman who wanted to attend a leadership conference. Elder Bragg was attending the conference in the hopes of hearing from Warren Bennis, one of his favorite leadership thinkers.
The man he helped turned out to be Bennis’ brother. In his conversation with Bennis about the experience, he learned that successful leadership is built on principles of kindness.
“It is not about taking charge or being in charge but blessing those who are in your charge,” Elder Bragg said.
Elder Bragg spoke about the need for “loving and inspired leadership” in the Church as the world prepares for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This generation of BYU graduates will play an important role in the growth of the Church, he said.
To learn more about inspired leadership, Elder Bragg pointed to the example of Jesus Christ. “In all of my reading, I have never found better teachings on leadership than from the Savior Himself,” he said.
He encouraged BYU students to study 3 Nephi chapters 11-18 in the Book of Mormon, which describe Christ’s ministry in the Americas.
“His first day with the Nephites is one of the greatest days of leadership teaching in recorded history,” he said.
Elder Bragg delineated three significant leadership principles taught by Christ: 1) Focus on individuals, 2) Build up and teach your leaders, and 3) Teach repetitively.
Everything Christ did on that first day was done “one by one.” Both inside and outside of the Church, great leadership “requires a caring focus on the one,” he said.
Christ sustained the leaders he called. Elder Bragg suggested all organizations could improve as their members support one another, no matter their positions.
To illustrate the principle of repetition in Christ’s teachings, Elder Bragg shared that he has a saying attributed to FedEx founder Fred Smith on his desk: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Christ was consistent in His teaching, he said, always focused on “the main thing” — eternal, salvific doctrines.
Elder Bragg then compared the leadership principles taught and exemplified by Christ to modern-day leadership thinking. “Here we are, about 2,000 years later, and Christ’s leadership lessons have stood the test of time,” he said,
According to Elder Bragg, it’s important to study not only how Christ taught, but also what He taught. Christ focused his sermons on doctrine and subjects of most significance, he explained.
“I truly believe that He [Christ] taught then, on that beautiful day, what He would teach us today,” he said.
He invited BYU students to consider the teachings of President Russell M. Nelson, the current prophet of the Church. Elder Bragg said President Nelson’s focus on covenants, gathering Israel and temples reflect the Savior’s doctrine and show that he is divinely led.
Elder Bragg concluded his remarks by testifying of Jesus Christ as “the Great Leader” and “the Master Teacher.” He said he hopes BYU students will follow, lead, bless, lift and love as Christ does.
“As we follow Him, He will endow us with power, and we will lead in light and love,” Elder Bragg said.