No matter how well designed an organization is, it is only as good as the people who live and work in it. What determines the organization’s performance is the approach to management its leaders take. In determining what makes a good leader,
Without integrity, motivation is dangerous;
without motivation, capacity is impotent;
without capacity, understanding is limited;
without understanding, knowledge is meaningless;
without knowledge, experience is blind.
Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.
Most leaders don’t have a problem getting new, innovative thoughts into their mind, the problem is getting old ones out. Every mind is like a room packed with antique furniture. All of the old stuff of what we know, think, the way we behave, and believe must be taken out before we can replace it with something new. When empty spaces are made in the mind something creative will fill it.
If one has a desire to lead, they need to invest at least 50% of their time managing themselves, their ethics, character, principles, purpose, motivation, behaviour and conduct. At least 25% of the time must be invested in managing those who have authority over us. Managing peers requires approximately 20% of our time. The remainder of the time, 5%, should be used to manage those we work for, those whom we lead.
Leadership is a dynamic process over an extended period of time in which a leader influences the thoughts and activities of followers, toward accomplishment of aims, usually mutually beneficial for leaders, followers, and the organization of which they are a part.
According to Bishop Brown, a leader is a person with a God-given responsibility to influence a specific church or group of God’s people toward his purposes for the church or group. The Patriarch Dr. Williams defines leadership as the process of motivating, mobilizing, resourcing, and directing people to passionately and strategically pursue a vision from God that the group jointly embraces. For where there is no vision the people perish.
According to Reverend Mother Gloria, spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda. For, leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth. Leadership is not merely influence, getting things done effectively, or controlling the decision-making process, it’s been described as something beautiful; hard to define, but you will know it when you see it.
A leader must possess integrity and good behaviour. Integrity is that quality of character that elicits trust from others. It is being whole, complete, and uncompromising adherence to truth. Integrity asks the question, “Am I able to do that which you trust me to do?” It is developed when I have permission to be honest about who I am and who I am not. Integrity needs a safe place to develop. True integrity is realized by understanding the reality of who God says you are.
Leaders are men/women of character and again good behaviour. Character empowers our capacities while keeping them in check. Character is what you are, whereas reputation is what others think you are. Though character is made by many acts; it may be lost by a single one. (Yes a single act of behaviour)
Humility is a characteristic of leadership. Humility is trusting God and others with myself People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. (Divisional Patriarch Sir Godfrey Gregg finding your season).
As previously stated, self-leadership is our greatest investment when leading. Rev. Kenny Inniss asks a number of questions that are relevant to self-leadership. Leaders would do well to ask the following questions: Is my calling sure? God what do you want me to do? What is God’s mission for my life? Is my vision clear? Where are you going? A leader’s job is to see around corners. Is my pace sustainable? Are you preparing for a lifetime of ministry? We need to practice that part of the long view. Is my love for God and people increasing? This can be a key indicator of ministry burnout even before you start. Beware of the danger of plateauing. Is your heart for God? What do you want to learn this week? Who is responsible for your leadership development? How do you envision God changing you and your surroundings?
Is my passion hot? What is it that motivates you? Who is responsible for keeping your passion hot? Am I developing my gifts? What steps are you taking to develop your spiritual gifts? Is my character submitted to Christ? What changes need to be made in my character? Is my pride subdued? Who do you have who can speak truth into your life? Am I overcoming fear? My fears can seem overwhelming when my focus is not on God. Are interior issues undermining my leadership? We often want to avoid the dark side of leadership. We must beware of isolation; character is formed in community but tested in isolation.
It is a good thing to sit at the feet of sound and astute biblical leaders and analyze their leadership. Samuel was left in the care of Eli at the temple after being weaned by his mother. As a lad he had not come to recognize the voice of God. Chosen by God to judge Israel, he came to the knowledge of God’s voice; he was obedient to the voice and the call to the prophetic ministry and the call to be a judge over Israel.
Samuel was capable of leading himself, his peers within and without Israel; he led downward and had a right relationship with God which means he knew how to lead upward because God honored his life. There was a problem with Samuel’s sons, who lived immoral lives. The question could be asked, If Samuel was lacking in his ability to lead his family or was this just a case where children have been brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but choose to rebel?
According to scripture, God had complete trust in Samuel and Samuel found favor with God. When Israel insisted on having a king to lead them as the other nations, Samuel became distraught feeling rejected by a people he had led and was now being cast aside because he had aged. He was consoled by God’s assurance that it was not he who was being rejected but Israel was rejecting their true King.
Given the arduous task of choosing a king for Israel, Samuel was led to the appropriate location to find the man that God had chosen. Again, God sets circumstances in motion to have his chosen man, Saul, at the right place at the right time. It was God who was involved in choosing the leaders He wanted over His people.
First King: When Saul was anointed by Samuel to be king over Israel, scripture states that a spirit of prophecy came upon him as he met a group of prophets and his spirit was changed within him as if he was another man. As long as Saul was obedient to the voice of God he was a capable and successful leader. He lacked the ability to lead himself successfully; flesh was a major problem for Saul. He disobeyed the voice of God when asked to kill all the Amalekites, including the animals, but Saul chose to save the best of the spoils for himself. Even King Agag was spared. Another incident that infuriated God with Saul was his offering sacrifices to God in the absence of Samuel. The results of these two incidents led to the rejection of Saul by God. Saul had the ability to lead downward, laterally, upward, when obedient, but was lacking in the area of self-leadership. This led to his downfall.
God’s rejection of Saul led to the choice of David as the next king of Israel. Again, it was given to Samuel to make the trip to the house of Jesse, the Benjamite, to look among his sons for the next king. After David was finally chosen, Saul asked Jesse to allow David to come to his palace to reside because of David’s musical ability. After Saul’s rejection by God, an evil spirit entered him and he had a tendency to go into fits of rage. David’s music had a soothing effect on Saul, but he would also become jealous of David and attempt to kill him.
Second King: David was a great warrior and on his return from battle on one occasion, the women stood on their balconies and shouted, “Saul has killed his thousands but David his tens of thousands.” Saul’s animosity grew continually against David and he sought ways to annihilate him.
Eventually, David was anointed king over all of Israel and he was a great warrior king as well as leader. He was God’s chosen, but there were flaws in his character. Several times he missed the mark in self-leadership. The one time that stands out the most in scripture was the affair that he had with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, whom he ultimately had killed.
David was an excellent lateral leader, an excellent downward leader, he led upward, with skill, but he had to work hard on self-leadership as most of us do. In his final epitaph he was declared to be a man after God’s own heart, this was due to his desire to do the will of God.
Third King: Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, was Israel’s third king. His reign was one of relative peace between the nations and one of prosperity. Solomon was considered the wisest man to have ever lived. In his youth, after being anointed king, it was his prayer to God that he be granted wisdom to be able to in and out among such a great people. God granted Solomon his request and threw in extraordinary wealth along with wisdom. It was given him by God to build the Temple of the Lord. This project took him seven years to complete.
When the temple was completed Solomon dedicated the magnificent structure in a public ceremony of prayers and sacrifices. Solomon was also known for other building projects in which he used slave labor from foreign lands. He spent 13 years building his palace. He built the city wall, a citadel & a palace for one of his foreign wives, and facilities for foreign traders.
Solomon led downward with great ability, laterally equally as well, upward when in the will of God, but had great difficulty in his middle years with self-leadership. His many foreign wives drew his heart away from God and he afforded them the luxury of bringing and worshiping their idol gods in Israel. In Solomon’s senior years, he saw the error of his ways and concluded that all of his past vices were nothing more than vanity.
The Bible gives us a picture of biblical leaders who were examples of good leaders. Let’s use the example of Esther as a prime example of what upward leadership is about. A Jewish queen, married to a Persian king, with the lives of her country men on the line, she was persuaded by her uncle Mordecai to go in to the king to intercede for her people. She was informed that perhaps God had allowed her to come to power for such a time as this.
Haman disdained the Jewish race and because Mordecai refused to bow to him on his approach, he wanted Mordecai, as well as the other Jews, annihilated. Haman plotted against the Mordecai and the Jewish people to the extent that he had a gallows built to hang Mordecai from.
Esther was a woman of integrity, possessing the qualities of a good leader, and well behaved she called for a fast among her people before going in to see the king, because it had been months since he had summoned her into his presence. To enter the king’s presence without being summoned could result in consequences that were not pleasant. At the end of the fast, Esther decided to in to see the king stating, “If I perish. I perish.”
While on his bed one evening, King Ahasuerus could not sleep and had read to him the annals of the past. It was read to him how Mordecai had informed the king that two of his body guards sought to lay hands on him and destroy him. Realizing that Mordecai had never been rewarded for his kindness, the king called in Haman to inquire what should be done. Haman gave his input for a parade thinking that the affair was for him.
When called to a banquet with Esther present, the story was told to the king of the plot that was being planned against her people. Ahasuerus asked who it was that was planning this atrocity and Esther informed him that it was Haman. Haman was put to death on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. Through she was an all-around leader, her ability to lead upward was quite valuable in saving the lives of her people.
Another biblical character that represents upward leadership is Nehemiah. A loyal cup-bearer of King Artaxerxes, he heard that the walls in his beloved city, Jerusalem, was in shambles, and the gates were burned. Deeply disturbed by this news his continence changed. The observant person that he was, Artaxerxes questioned the disposition of Nehemiah. Being a man of prayer and guided by the Spirit, Nehemiah tactfully informed the king of the condition of his homeland. He was deeply troubled that the place of his father’s sepulchers lie in waste and the gates of the city had been destroyed by fire.
When one leads upward, the proper approach is necessary. This was seen with Esther and it is also seen in the life of Nehemiah. He stated, “If it pleases the king, or if I have pleased you with my service, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s sepulchers, that I may rebuild it.”
All that Nehemiah asked of the king was granted him and with much prayer, hard work, and opposition, the work was completed. The key to Nehemiah’s success was first, his ability to lead upward, getting the king to accept his proposal; and then getting those who may have been his peers, within the group, to work diligently with him. Because this was the homeland of them all, there was a sense of ownership involved. He led laterally to those who were outside the group by refusing the help of those who pretended to be supporters, and by refusing to cease working to entertain the antics of Sanballat and Tobias. To lead upward, self-leadership must come first.
Good leaders allow others to share in, or own the vision of the leader. Leaders must produce visions of passion that will cause others not only to buy into the vision, but to grasp it with passion and go forward with it. Owning the vision gives value to others. It allows them to dream and to reflect about where the vision is going. As I stated earlier where there is no vision the people perish.
Leaders need to emphasize the importance of the group because nothing happens when one works alone. All though, we all have fears and fear is a common factor in each of us, overcoming each fear makes us stronger. Prejudice comes from a base of fear, xenophobia, which is fear of the unknown. One must be something that is more important and stronger than their fears. To be truthful about it, pain is necessary; dealing with the pain gets one where one needs to be. Good leaders will attempt to see the potential in others and try to unlock those qualities.
Rev. Kenny Inniss talked about defining the problem and building on it. People need to be moved beyond their self-serving motives. They have to be taught when to transition and move forward. Empowering others is a key factor in good leaders. Delegating authority builds support. If people are given an agenda they can understand, then the leader will see fruit. Leaders are to focus on their goals and not be intimidated by negative reactions. Leave something got the generation that follows.
Leaders must define strengths and build on those strengths. Strengths are not what you are good at, but, what makes you feel good. One must be an authority of one’s own strengths. There are risks to blossoming as opposed to staying in the bud.
New converts must be taught early how to self-feed. Facts are the leader’s friend. If you are not getting the expected results, and people are allowed to share with you their feelings concerning the matter, don’t ignore the facts. Productive leaders will plan strategically and ahead of time. This does not involve what we want to do, but, how do we do what we want to do?
Spiritual leaders must see themselves as delivering a service to a customer. Four questions need to be asked:
- How do I define what my goals are?
- What set of community needs am I going to meet?
- How can I deliver value?
- How do I create alignment from the group?
Be clear about your goals and measure them.
General Colin Powell once said, leadership is defined as being the problem solver. Allow others to share their ideas, but, when the leader makes a decision he/she needs to stick to it. Maintain an open door policy and put people in the best environment to get the job done. It is people that get the job done, and not mere talk.
Astute leaders get information where they can find it if they are not informed on an issue or a situation. The best performers should be rewarded and poor performers should be gotten rid of. Keep emotions and professional feelings separate. Your spiritual life should be set apart from your personal life. At no time should your anger supersede your good behaviour, whether at home or in the public Be who you are and be prepared to be lonely, but have someone you can let off steam with.
President Jimmy Carter exemplified a true leader’s ability to transform what seems to be defeat into victory. Refusing to become bitter over his loss of the presidency, he channeled those energies into something positive, projects that benefited others. Subordinates should be encouraged to disagree with each other but, at the same time, reach a consensus. Avoid outbursts and open anger with your fellow peers, ministers or even your brothers and sisters. Remember to be the best example you can when ever and wherever you are.
It is a leader’s responsibility to stay inspired and motivated. If the leader is not inspired neither will his followers be. When spiritual leaders are inspired, more is given; therefore, it is imperative that leaders stay crystal clear about their calling from God. There were times when Jesus was fully engaged in helping the needy but He knew when it was necessary to pull away from the crowds as well as His disciples and refocus. When our calling is sure, we must stay away from those who will de-motivate us. Develop relationships with other leaders who inspire and motivate you. There are many books that are written to inspire and motivate, read them!
There are essential biblical principles in scripture for the five directions of leadership that will work for all leaders. The first and foremost investment is to be in self-leadership. Those persons that led themselves well were successful leaders. The proper amount of time invested in leading will ultimately lead to leading well laterally, upward, and downward.
The biblical characters whose calling was sure and whose passion was hot was motivated to lead well. Those persons who neglected self-leadership found themselves displaced in their roles as leaders. They could not lead laterally, upward, nor downward. Looking at the plight of those who neglected self-leadership should encourage us to invest most of our time leading ourselves. Having an understanding that our calling is sure, we must maintain my level of passion for the leadership role we’ve been called to. It is our responsibility, and ours alone, to remain inspired. It is important that we associate with those persons who are positive, and continue to read material that is inspiring and positive.
The critical questions to ask are those questions that Bill Hybels asks himself on a daily basis:
- What is my focus: self, upward, laterally, or downward? Where the focus of leadership is placed is important.
- Is my calling sure? What is God’s mission for my life? God, what do you want me to do?
- Is my vision clear? Where am I going?
- Is my pace sustainable? If I’m preparing for a lifetime of ministry, which I am, am I practicing the art of long view?
- How is my heart? What do I want to learn new this week? Who is responsible for my leadership development? How is God changing my life?
- Is my love for God and people increasing? I should be aware when I am about to experience ministry burnout. I have been in that position before and it is a place that I would like to avoid in the future.
Those are the questions that we should constantly ask ourselves as we continue to invest more time in self-leadership.
The biggest challenges or most dangerous temptations that would result in failing to lead well in this direction are that our loss of motivation or inspiration will cause those whom we lead to become uninspired. It will also cause us to lose our vision or focus and love for the work of ministry as well as caring for those whom we lead.
We will know that we’re doing well in this area when others are excited about the vision that is given them and inspired to work without being coerced. John Ortberg points out that there are signs that leaders should ask for. Leaders should learn how to read people, body language, facial expressions, nervous laughs, and slumped shoulders are some of the signals people will send to let you know how well you are leading.
People will tell you with signals when to listen. Leaders tend to talk too much and signals are sent to tell you when to stop talking. Leaders need to know that you can’t listen in a hurry. Good leaders will bring focus to the group. People will send signals for leaders to inspire them and to motivate them. The best signal of a leader losing focus is when people become stagnant. So, we know that we’re doing well when people are focused, excited, inspired, and motivated.
Our focus for continual development in this direction should involve better management of time in self to become the leader that we should be. How do we know when to say no to a given situation that will draw us away from our main focus, which is leading self first? We need to do what is necessary to remain inspired, excited, and maintain a passion for ministry and leading well.