Leadership. Without it organizations crumble, potential is never met, people are left puzzled and frustrated, and everything suffers. But with a strong leader, what can be accomplished is limitless. Especially in the church, most ministries are capped by the capability and competency of the leader, and the stakes are too high to not be the best leaders we can be.
I have worked for both terrible leaders and for incredible leaders. I have seen both the negative effects of poor leadership, and the positive effects of strong leadership. The need for stronger leaders is not a secret and the desire to grow as a leader should be a high priority for each of us, regardless of the title of leadership we hold.
So, how do we improve as a leader? Here are 9 simple to enact principles that will change your leadership landscape and propel your leadership journey.
1. Keep learning
It has been said “leaders are learners,” and that is extremely true! The moment we feel as if we know it all or do not need to improve is the moment we begin to decline. We must continue learning and trying to improve, and always hold the understanding that we do not know everything.
Read, listen, seek out ways to continually learn and improve. I promise the top leadership role models from podcasts, blogs, speakers, books, etc. that you listen to and learn from will all agree that they need to learn more and improve as leaders themselves.
2. Let someone better than you do the task
Leadership is not doing everything yourself or taking the spotlight for big difficult tasks. Leadership is building someone else up to do the task and doing what is best for the organization. Many times the leaders lack of competence in a certain area and the inability to release control in that area is what will hold the entire organization back.
There WILL be people who are better than you at certain things and leadership is recognizing that and allowing others to take the reigns in those areas to ensure the best possible outcome.
3. Be Real
The quickest way to kill your leadership is to be inauthentic. Eventually people will see straight through you when you fake it and no one wants to follow a leader who cannot be real. You are not perfect and you do not have all the answers, so be honest about yourself, and with yourself.
4. Care about those you lead
A leader who does not care about his people is simply a tyrant. While it is very true that leadership is a skill and not a title, a title does put you in a place of leadership. It is our choice whether we will lead with character and care about those we lead or ride the title and crash the organization. Lead with compassion, thinking about those you lead more than yourself and your goal (Philippians 2). Pray for those you lead, talk with them, listen to them.
5. Your team is as strong as your team members
Going hand-in-hand with point number 4, we must pour into our people! We lead a group of people which means the group is only as strong as the people in it. We must pour into our team members in order to increase our leadership potential. That means recruiting well and building a leadership structure that is comprised of the best people possible. Find individuals who are BETTER (point # 2) and more talented than you and sign them up. Train your team, don’t just expect them to all be rockstars the first day, you had to learn (hopefully are still learning) and so do they.
6. Adversity is necessary for growth
Guess what? Things won’t always be perfect. I know, major bomb right there, but it is true. You will fail and you will encounter roadblocks. In fact, if you are not failing, you probably aren’t doing anything at all. Every single leader fails at something at some point and will unavoidably encounter adversity. What you do with that failure/adversity is what determines your success. Embrace adversity, work through it, and use it to grow.
7. Have a BIG, CLEAR vision
Leading literally means taking someone, something, or a group of someones or somethings somewhere. Your job is to take the people you lead in a certain direction. This means you MUST have a clear picture of where you are headed and wherever that is should be somewhere difficult to get to, somewhere that sounds impossible at first. As the leader, it is essential that you have a BIG (challenging and growth-requiring) and CLEAR (easily defined and understood) vision that will take the people you lead somewhere amazing.
8. Teamwork makes the dream work
Working together is essential to the success of any team or organization. However, truly “working together” is merely a byproduct of the work that has gone into building a cohesive team. Cohesion, unity, atmosphere, and team-building are essential, and they fall on you as the leader. It begins with recruiting the right people, and is sustained by reinforcing vision, building relationships, and working to strengthening the unity of the team.
9. Have a foundation
Every physical structure needs a foundation or it will crumble. The same goes for a leader, we need a foundation or we too will crumble. Leadership is not easy which is why it is essential we have something to lean on. That something needs to be Jesus. As leaders, we must be learning, reading, communicating with, and building our relationship with Jesus or we will find ourselves drowning, freaking out, and feeling empty. The organization is only as strong as its leader, which is why we must continue to learn (point # 1) and most importantly we NEED a firm foundation. If Jesus is not your foundation and He is not the one you are fully leaning on, eventually you will no longer be able to stand.
Leadership is essential and we all need to grow as leaders. I hope these 9 principles will help you on your leadership journey. If you have any questions or would like to know about our ministry coaching program email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com