"The church is the hope of the world, and leaders are the hope of the church." - Bill Hybels
Natural leaders stand out – they’re easy to identify. Identifying those that have the potential to become leaders is a much harder process. The trick is identifying those who are capable of learning leadership over time. I am constantly encouraging those I lead to develop the skills of a “talent scout”. In the sports world, talent scouts tirelessly search for the next undiscovered superstar. They pride themselves in seeing what others do not and taking risks on untapped potential. As leaders within the church we would be wise to do the same. Here are several traits to help identify whether someone is capable of leading.
1. Leadership in the past:The best predictor of the future is the past. Take note of any volunteer who has been in a leadership role in other areas of their lives (ie. CEO, board member, manager, coach, etc.). If he’s showed leadership in other roles, it’s worth considering them for inside the church as well. Ask yourself: Does this person have a proven track record of leading? What experiences have they had that prepared them for potential leadership opportunities in the future?
2. The capacity to create or cast vision: When talking to people about the future, you want their eyes to light up. A great leader is capable of building excitement and momentum from scratch by simply asking, “Why don’t you come and help me build something great?” Leaders infuse those they lead with their own energy. They provide the inspiration that drives the engine and harnesses the power of their followers. Ask yourself: Is this person able to clearly define a vision and motivate others to go with it? Do they consistently inspire the team and those around them?
3. Have a constructive spirit of discontent: Leaders look for ways to improve, are sensitive to misses, and are committed to excellence. They understand the difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. They are consistently seeking to make the world around them a better place and to actively develop potential in people around them. Leaders have the courage to make changes that improve the organization. They embrace change instead of resist it. Ask yourself: Does this person have a high level of excellence in every area of life? Do they hold themselves to a high level of accountability and excellence? How do they respond to change?
4. Solution specialist: Leaders are able to identify problems and provide solutions. If they perceive a fault, they also look for a way to fix the problem – not some fanciful solution, but a practical approach. Decision-making is a natural part of their life. Leaders don’t spend a lot of time pondering issues; they make a decision and get on with it. Their role is moving forward, and standing still is not something they tolerate in themselves. Great leaders are able to discern problems in advance and proactively provide solutions before hand. In our culture we call this ability to forecast out potential problems as “smelling smoke” Ask yourself: Does this person take charge and make things happen? Are they able to come up with solutions to problems without your help?
5. Desire to learn and grow: A leader can take direction and feedback well and has a great desire to learn. Teachable and open to suggestions are key traits – a person who thinks they have all the answers will repel other leaders. Ask yourself: How has this person responded to critique in the past? Does he/she display an attitude of pride? Have they shown a willingness to be flexible in their role?
6. Good character: Character counts. Not perfection. Not flawlessness. But, good character is necessary to be trusted on a team. Integrity. Honesty. A humble desire to always be improving as a person. Reliability – leadership is about trust and trust is developed over time by consistently doing what they said they would do. Ask yourself: Does this person regularly follow through? Are they a person of integrity who makes solid decisions based on lifelong values?
This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of needed leadership traits for every role. Start by identifying the three competencies that are the most obvious in the prospective leader’s life. Then take another look at the list. While they don’t need to be great at every item, it is unlikely that they could be quickly developed if they are terrible at any of these things. Focus on improvement in those areas of less ability first before moving forward into any leadership training.
Roman Archer serves as the Executive Pastor of Next Level Church. Pastor Roman oversees the general administration of the church and is constantly looking for new ways to improve the systems, processes, and ministries within the church. Additionally, he oversees all of NLC's location pastors, pastoring them and developing them into better leaders. Roman and his wife, Michelle, along with their two girls Ellie and Sophie, live in Berwick, ME.