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for the curious about life and leading others

4 Characteristics of Great Leaders

Jared Kirkwood

There are a ton of books about leadership. I have read maybe 50 of them, and thats probably .01% of the amount of books dedicated to helping people like you and me lead our teams better. But I am convinced that no leadership book can define how you are meant to lead.

In my few years of leading a ministry team, I have determined the 4 skills that every good leader has.

  1. Learn to listen. I recently heard Dr. Scott Cormode from Fuller Seminary explain that leadership is listening. We must create an environment where we can hear our people's dreams, struggles, frustrations, doubts, and goals for the future. I would add that we must listen with the intent to know them. Like, truly know them. Would your volunteers, leaders, or follows say that they are known by you?
  2. Get the right people in the right places. Most church leaders would agree that Andy Stanley is pretty close to a genius at the way he leads Northpoint. He defines one aspect of his job as making sure he has the right people in the right places to maximize the potential of achieving their mission. The leader's responsibility is to know the individuals of their teams, now that they have listened to them, to place them in positions that maximize their strengths for the good of the Kingdom. Everyone wants to contribute to the mission of God, you can help them feel successful. Put right people in right places.
  3. Make great decisions. The culture I lead in requires me to make important decisions at a very fast pace. I don't get them right all the time, but I have increased my success rate by focusing on 3 things: Do I know the mission at hand? How does that effect the vision of our church? And what are the values of the ministry? With those as the filter, I can increase the rate of great decision that benefit the ministry, not myself.
  4. Tell better stories. Yea yea, you have heard this one from me before. But the reality is still true: stories connect the dots from day to day work to the reason all of us are here. Share powerful stories of how God is working in your midst. Use sensory language that draws on the emotions of your listeners. And choose right stories that guide and direct your followers in the direction you are leading. Bobette Buster wrote a book called Do Story which I highly recommend.

If this list looks foreign to you, I would encourage you to consider learning these skills. None require more education or financial commitment, just a heart that is ambitious for the people you are leading. God has entrusted people to our care, lets do our best create an environment that compels people to be their best.