Potential leaders are more available than many people think. The difficulty is to identify them properly. How can we discern the call of God upon a person’s life? In our last few Letters, we have examined some guidelines concerning how to choose the right emerging leaders to work with. The following are six final guidelines:
- 12. Look for “outside the box” thinking.
As well as being “big-picture” thinkers, effective leaders will also be able to generate creative responses to opportunities and problems.Effective leaders challenge the status quo. They are always seeking God’s best. They are continually seeking a better way to do something. Thus, a healthy leader will have a spirit of discontent that is not critical but constructive. The way to distinguish between criticism and constructive discontent is this: if a person says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this,” you can determine if there is leadership potential in him by asking, “What might that better way be?” If he has nothing to offer, then he is being critical, and not constructive. But if he has already thought of creative alternatives, then he has a constructive spirit of discontent.
At the same time, they must be practical in their thinking. Not everyone who has practical ideas will be a good leader, but effective leaders must be able to distinguish between practical ideas and impractical ones, or else they will end up wasting a great deal of the organization’s time and resources.
- 13. Look for a desire to help others succeed.
A significant part of leadership involves working with others in teams, so it is vital that each leader has a heart to help his co-workers succeed.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)
This attitude will reveal itself in ministry situations when the individual prays for and actively serves not only his own portion of the work, but also other areas of the ministry.
In addition, the emerging leader should be able to get along with others, possessing a certain measure of relational capacity.
- 14. Look for a realistic opinion of himself and others.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Rom. 12:3)
Those who demand perfection from themselves and others will not make good leaders. Effective leaders must be willing to accept reasonable mistakes. Perfectionists will be too afraid of mistakes to delegate responsibilities to others.
- 15. Ask yourself if you are the right one to help this emerging leader.
Even when you clearly discern leadership potential in someone, you must still be sure that you can give the person the right environment he needs to grow and succeed. Paul, for example, recognized that Mark was better-placed under Barnabas’ ministry than under his own (Acts 15:36-40).
- 16. Make necessary adjustments.
It is quite likely that we will make mistakes in our choosing of emerging leaders and we should be prepared to make adjustments if we discover a “bad fit.”In addition, we may also want to establish a probationary period to be sure we are working with the right ones.
- 17. Don’t demand perfection.
We cannot expect perfection or even a high degree of maturity in a young, emerging leader in the early stages of his development. But there must be the whole-hearted willingness to learn and to grow.
In view of these guidelines, please examine the way that you (or your organization) choose the emerging leaders you plan to work with. What specific improvements can you make to your process?
Next Letter: Building Leaders Takes Time #1