Everyone seems to have their own opinions about what makes a great leader, and so do I. There are many characteristics and actions that we all could speak on and the majority of them would have validity as “greatness” is subjective. Since that is true I decided to go to the one source of wisdom that has always been undisputable for me, the Word of God. It is filled with Great Leaders from cover to cover so my research became taxing as to narrowing down what or who makes a Great Leader. We could glean from so many people in the Bible, Abraham a man who followed instructions without question. Moses who led disgruntled complaining people all across the desert for 40 years and showed unbelievable patience. Deborah who led an army to defeat their enemies in a time when women were told to be quiet and take a back seat. David disrespected by his brothers because he was the youngest but with his faith in the Lord and five smooth stones he showed that perseverance and determination could make him a king. I could go on and on but I’ve narrowed it down to 5 tips that make a great leader.
1. First and foremost a great leader is aware that their position is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities. They constantly seek wisdom and are continuous learners to enhance their leadership. Proverbs 16:9 says that in the heart humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps. Sift your plans through prayer and wait for God’s guidance and approval.
2. Great leaders recognize that integrity, humility and honesty are their greatest tools for making friends and influencing others. Leaders who influence and convince others to buy into their dreams, projects and goals, must be seen as reliable, stable, trustworthy and responsible. When our character is pleasing to God it will be pleasing to others. Even the most reluctant will be softened if they trust your word. Leaders of integrity will be able to convince others to “get on board” – “catch the vision” and follow if you are believable. If we “do what we say and say what we do” it will increase credibility when they keep their promises. Honest Leaders are honorable and practice what they preach. Humble leaders are not afraid to get in the mix. They can delegate but they will also get in the trenches to make sure they all arrive to the gates of completion and success as a team. Great leaders will always strive to do the “Right Thing” even if it takes longer to complete, require additional capital resources, or cause senior management to be disgruntled. Short cuts, undercuts, and deceit leads to costly trials later on. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Do your best. Work from your heart for your Real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance”. As a leader you understand you are setting an example, training and developing those under your authority. Most of all, the Lord is watching and He will show you Favor in the long run. You will not only cross the finish line but you will hear the Lord call you “Good and Faithful”.
3. Great leaders don’t stand on the side of the widest river in the world, the river of “If Only”, according to Max Lucado. They don’t ponder about what could be, should have been, or linger in hesitation and fear. They pray, prepare for the “waters” and jump in. They understand when they formulate a plan, are given an assignment, or are pursuing a dream they know there will be rivers to cross, people who want to stop you mid- stream, obstacles that block the path, and strong winds of adversity that could rise up unexpectedly. Strong leaders operate in faith not fear. They know and live out II Timothy 1:7 as their mantra for daily living. (For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.)
4. A great leader prepares the way for change. John the Baptist set the stage and carried the flag that Jesus was coming. He answered the “Call” and accepted his assignment with earnest single-minded focus. He gave the message to all to repent and receive Salvation in the “Coming Lamb of God” Jesus, who would take away the sins of the world. John was ridiculed and called crazy but he refused to back down. There is no “Quit” in a strong leader when the heat is turned up. They are persistent and persevering in the face of adversity. Confront personnel concerns immediately. Do it personally and privately if possible. Seek to make the conversation a positive training period with the intent to move forward and put the issue to rest. Remain calm but “Speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
5. Communication is key to accomplishing team goals. A great leader understands the “Art of Listening”. It allows you to hear other ideas and thoughts because you understand that you are not sovereign. You recognize that learning comes from everywhere and everyone. Fresh ideas lie dormant and unspoken if a team member is made to feel inferior, unappreciated or disrespected. Listening is a great way to get to know your team. There is nothing more empowering to a person then to know their leader/boss cares for them. My husbands, Q, always says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Building relationships is one of the best ways to strengthen the solidarity of your team. Tavis Smiley, Talk Show Host said, “You can’t lead people if you don’t love people, you can’t save people unless you serve people.” Jesus was the greatest leader and example of this quote. Mark 9:35 “says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and servant of all.”