Be A Leader Worth Following

Courtesy of David Paul Ohmer/Creative Commons License

It’s always been interesting to me to see how certain leaders respond in moments of crisis.  During the last couple of days I’ve been glued (Like many others) to the television and social media regarding the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.  What has caught my eye is not the devastation that Sandy has left behind; but, the ways certain public officials have responded to the situation.  Some are constantly reaching out to others, giving out hope, and embracing the situation.  Others are just passing on the blame.

Most if not all youth ministers know that there will be moments of tragedy that hit your ministry.  During those times it’s a real opportunity for others to see the makeup of your leadership.  Some embrace the situation while others throw it away.  But, to know whether or not your are a true leader doesn’t take misfortune.  In fact it’s something to work on everyday.  So what makes a good leader?  And how does one become a leader worth following?  Here are five characteristics that I think are essential:

  • Selflessness – A great leader is a servant leader.  That doesn’t mean using your position for power; but, using it to inspire and encourage the people working around you and for you.  It’s about understanding the needs of your team.  To do this with your volunteers get to know them as people outside the ministry.  When you see them as more than just volunteers you’ll understand that you need them as much as they need you.
  • Shrewdness – A great leader is willing to think outside the box.  A shrewd person will see a situation with an open mind and the ability to see it from every angle.  This means taking risks; however, with prudence. Someone who is shrewd can take their ministry to the next level.  To build this up you need to study great leaders (i.e. John D. Rockefeller) who leveraged a situation for big gain. Or you can start out by seeing what Christ says in the story of the Shrewd Manager.
  • Focused – A great leader is someone who knows the vision.  It’s easy to be distracted as you gain more responsibility.  New opportunities and situations will tempt you away from God’s vision for your ministry; however a focused leader knows how to get the team back on track.  To stay focused one must revisit his or her vision and mission statement.  You do this by memorizing it, tweaking it and making sure others on your team embrace it.
  • Perseverant – A great leader isn’t afraid of failure.  You take a risk, fall, and still get back up.  A leader who persevers understands that there will be tragedy and adversity; however, does not back down.  To become perseverant a leader must surround themselves with a support team, and allow God to lead them in their decisions.
  • Faithful – A great leader trusts God and others.  They trust God to lead, guide, advise and challenge.  They trust their teams to take over responsibilities delegated to them.  To build up your faithfulness it’s important to have open, consistent and authentic communication with God and your team.  Once the communication breaks down, a void is left open.  That void can be filled with suspicion or trust.  A faithful leader will always fill it with trust.

They may not be the only characteristics of a powerful leader; however, they are five of the more important ones.  If you are looking to build up on your leadership skills two books I recommend are Good to Great by Jim Collins and The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.  Some of us are natural born leaders; however, there are qualities we all need to fine tune.  With accountability and the willingness to be humble, you too can become a leader worth following.

What would you add or subtract from the list?  What else makes someone a leader worth following?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I would add this. In a crisis, the leader needs to be swift to act. There’s a time for patient deliberation, but not during a high-stakes crisis.

    It doesn’t matter who the stated leader is, the crowd will follow whomever moves first. Ergo, that person is the leader.

    • That’s a great trait. Indecisiveness from a leader can be discouraging. Even if the decision is wrong in the end a leader needs to lean in.