Before we get into the nitty-gritty of effective leadership, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding what a leader actually is. There are a thousand definitions of leadership, and we want to ensure that we’re all speaking the same language.
John Maxwell says that “leadership is influence – nothing more and nothing less.”
Generally speaking, a leader is someone who motivates others to act toward achieving a common goal. A leader can rally people around a cause and move them to take action toward achieving a particular objective.
A good leader inspires people to do something bigger than themselves.
Leaders inspire teams to work together to accomplish key objectives – pooling their strengths and resources to achieve great things. A good leader helps their team members become the absolute best version of themselves – all that God has planned for their lives.
Winston Churchill, in inspiring the people of England to keep fighting in WWII, is a great example of leadership. Thanks to his inspirational leadership, the people of England made great sacrifices in their fight against the evil Nazi regime.
A leader is different than a manager.
A good manager can maintain or exceed the status quo by implementing strategies and systems that are effective. We need managers! They are an asset to the body of Christ. A manager, however, is not necessarily a leader.
What traits and talents characterize a good leader?
Here are 5 high-level characteristics:
An effective leader has a clear vision of where they want to go and how they’re going to get there. They understand where they currently are and are crystal clear on what it’s going to take for them to get to where they want to be. The leader must be able to communicate this vision clearly to his team.
An effective leader is highly skilled at motivating people. They know what makes others tick and can tap into those emotional triggers. Through their words and actions, they are able to motivate people to do things they maybe wouldn’t do otherwise. Effective leaders not only share the “what to do” but the “why we do it” angle on needed tasks and goals. This goes a long way toward developing a culture of excellence.
The best leaders are those who serve. They seek to serve their team and make their team as effective as possible. They support their team members in whatever ways they can rather than constantly focusing on their own agenda and what they want to accomplish. We take our cue from the best leader in history, Jesus. (Matthew 20:28)
A leader should create a culture of unity among their team. One of the ways to do this is to understand their concerns of others. After the leader acknowledges their concerns they should respond to them accordingly.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying a leader should have to deal with high maintenance people on an ongoing basis. They should, however, know who works among the team and address issues that may potentially bring morale down.
The highly effective leader is creative when it comes to achieving their outcomes. The mission stays consistent but methodology will change. In our day, methods can change quickly. Effective leaders use their imagination to look beyond what is directly in front of them to see what’s truly possible. They’re able to see how they can effectively leverage the skills of those on their team for the maximum good.
None of these characteristics on their own makes for a good leader.
The best leaders possess a combination of some, if not all of these characteristics.
Here is some good news and some great advice:
If you’re not an effective leader now, you can grow and become an effective leader. Read some leadership books by John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, and Larry Kreider.
We all have blind spots, so an outside perspective can go a long way. Get a mentor or a coach to help you with your “blind spots”.