As a Leadership Coach I am always exploring looking ways of helping people grow in their leadership. Interestingly, getting people to recognise the leadership gift that they carry is often the first step to developing would-be leaders. Many people believe the old adage that leaders are born, not made, but a lot more people are beginning to acknowledge that in some cases, leaders are made and not necessarily born. True, there are some inherent characteristics that we are born with that may make us more likely to exhibit leadership qualities but that is not to say that all good leaders are born with these qualities. A lot of leadership behaviour can be learned if the environment and opportunities are right. Think about this, when Jesus called Peter to leave his fishing vocation and become a fisher of men, he most likely had no inkling that that call would entail leading the early church. I love to dig out the gold in people – and like most treasure, leadership is sometimes hidden beneath a pile of unfulfilled dreams, broken promises and negative experiences.

So what exactly is leadership? There are many definitions. For me, the simplest and most empowering is this – “leadership is influence”. Many of us think that one has to have a title or be in a certain position in order to lead. Wrong on both counts. We all have the opportunity to lead each day, first to lead ourselves, and then to lead others. It is just that some positions provide opportunities to influence more people than others. In each case however, leadership is still happening, just on different scales.

The parent who serves as a role model for their son or daughter; the teacher who inspires the student; the employer who trains and develops their employees are all influencing other people and therefore providing some form of leadership to them. Even when the intention to lead is not there, people are still being influenced by your words and actions, and therefore in some way are being led by you.

There is however in the body of Christ the particular gift of leadership mentioned in I Corinthians 12: 28 and if you are fortunate, you would have recognised that you possess this gift early on in your life. For many though, self-discovery happens later – in ones thirties, forties and even fifties. The good news is, it’s never too late to develop your gifts and no matter how far you have come there is always more to learn, more growing to do. In his book, From Good to Great (not a Christian book I might add) the author talks about level 5 leadership, the highest level of leadership that we can achieve and should be aiming for. The attributes of a level 5 leader according to the author may surprise you and I recommend that you read this book if you can.

Here are some tips about growing in your leadership:

  • First learn to lead yourself well and continue to make this a priority. This involves discipline – managing your time and resources well, holding yourself accountable and staying motivated.
  • Second recognise the people that God has put in your life in order for you to lead them. This is not always obvious even if you hold a position of leadership in your church or organisation. It could be someone you know outside of your team that needs your in put for a season. It could even be a family member or friend. Ask God to show you who he wants you to influence and then look for opportunities.
  • Thirdly, be more intentional about the influence that you exert over others. Recognise and take advantage of opportunities to encourage, challenge and support the people around you. Create opportunities for growth for the people you are leading. Yes, it involves a bit of a risk because you don’t know how well they will fare but how will they grow if no-one gives them the opportunity to stretch or you don’t allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Hold people when they fall and give them hope that they can succeed.
  • Finally, show your followers how to lead others. A leader is only really successful when they are reproducing even better leaders than themselves.

SELF- LEADERSHIP DAILY ACTIONS

  1. Set goals for yourself in keeping with your values and dreams. Write them down and share them with someone you trust. Ask them to hold you accountable for taking action.
  2. Take initiative. Be bold and willing to risk failure. After all failure is not final, unless you quit.
  3. Be a person of integrity.
  4. Take responsibility for your actions. Do away with excuses.
  5. Be a lifelong learner. Be willing to change and keep developing.