I was looking for a blog topic today and typed in Christian Leader and Christian Leadership to see what Google would tell me that means. What I found was companies (institutions, churches and “schools”) paying money to sell me courses on leadership as well as articles written authors. One of the best one’s heralded the 4 C’s of Christian Leadership. Calling, Competence, Confidence, and Character. That’s great and if you read the post there are a lot of words that back it up. However, I don’t agree that these 4 C’s are the answer to what makes a great Christian Leader.
I believe leadership is a learned skill that requires developing. The term “born leader” is a misnomer. All leaders are born, but no one is born a leader. Leadership is like playing an instrument. Some are more gifted at playing music than others, but everyone can learn. Because I believe this, I think there are leadership traits that can be measured and identified. Most, if not all of these traits are Biblical and can be tied to the word. However, these traits aren’t any more Christian and than Chick-fil-A is.
Christian VS Secular Leadership
However, since we are indeed talking about Christian Leadership let’s get the first part out of the way. In order to be a good Christian Leader, you do indeed need to be a Christian. I’m not talking about a nominal Christianity. Let’s assume though that since you’re reading this you’re a Christian or want to be. Let’s also assume that you want to be a better leader. To me, the very fact you’re reading this means you’re developing your Character and Competence. You’re also likely exploring your calling at the very least. We haven’t even covered what all great leaders do and by Google’s standard’s you’re already 75% of the way there.
Great Leadership Is Agnostic
Scary words, but capture the meaning. Great leaders can be Christians but they don’t have to be. There are 5 things that every great leader does. This is based on the research of Kouzes and Posner. In The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner write about their research across the world about what makes a great leader. In every country the same 5 practices were evident.
What Makes A Great Leader? – These 5 Practices
Great Leaders Have Clear Values
Every great leader had a strong set of values and lived by those values. Values are words that capture how an organization operates. If your value is “bold” it doesn’t matter whether you’re leading your family, a small group or a large corporation it means taking some risks and challenging the status quo. Values like Integrity and Love are integrated into the Christian walk. The key would be to make this part of your organizational DNA. Integrity to do the right thing even when the client isn’t. Who knows if you do this successfully you could be shining light in the workplace.
Great Leaders Have Clear Vision
When you think of leadership you naturally think of vision. The research proved this out as well. Every great leader has a clear picture of the future and is able to communicate this. However, it did not mean that great leaders are visionaries or outspoken. The person with the most energy and the person with the best communication skills aren’t always the best leaders. In fact, the research suggests that great leaders that are charismatic are the exception, not the rule.
Great Leaders Are Growth Oriented
Great leaders were always focused on growth and improvement. Kousez and Posner’s research showed that in addition to having a clear vision of the future, truly great leaders move in that direction. Growth of the organization and personal growth. If you want to be a great leader you need to be doing things to grow yourself.
Great Leaders Empower Others
Great leaders empower others to act. In fact, if you can’t or don’t empower anyone it’s pretty hard to call yourself a leader. In the Christian world, we might call you a servant leader, but that term is just as valuable outside the Christian context. According to the research, great leaders empowered others through training, modeling and delegating without micromanagement. One successful routine would be to delegate and debrief. Empower your organization to do the work then inspect what you expect (to use a leadership cliche’).
Great Leaders “Encourage The Heart”
Finally, in what seemed to be the most “Christian” practice of all the research, great leaders are encouragers. Who knew? As a Christian, I have a view of what that might look like but in a secular setting, great leaders that were not naturally empathetic built-in reward and recognition systems. In other cases, they would go out for lunch with family and in doing so modeled that family should come first. Many great leaders had an accountability standard that said, “if you get your job done, you can have the freedom to do what is important in your life.” A far cry from a leader operating in fear that employees would take advantage.
Are Great Christian Leaders Called?
Let’s dismiss this immediately. We are ALL called to be great Christian leaders. Jesus commanded us to make disciples and to go be witnesses throughout the world. If you’re doing this, you’re exerting influence and thereby exercising your leadership muscles. As you’re in these settings, remember your core values, remember the vision for the kingdom, continue to grow and encourage and empower others to do the same.
What do you think makes a great leader?