My first exposure to organized leadership was from a group of coaches on a football. My second was as a Boy Scout being led by a former Marine. A major leadership experience was in the US Navy. Later working as a machinist in a shop I saw firsthand manufacturing and business leadership. As a Patrolman and City Detective, I saw leadership at all levels in law enforcement and city government, etc.
As a full-time preacher and elder in the church, I have seen numerous approaches and kinds of leadership—from secular to deeply spiritual. I have worked with an amazing number of leaders on all levels. I have served in academic and educational roles; from organizing major soul winning workshops, to working in publishing and marketing, etc.
I have taught leadership at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as conducted seminars, workshops, and spoke on numerous leadership programs. I have authored 17 books on various aspects of leadership, as well as written numerous articles.
I mention all this as an introduction to the qualities I am listing in this article. They are my personal conclusions after all my years being involved in leadership. Few questions are asked more frequently than, “What are the qualities of a positive leader?” The following qualities I deem as positive and essential. They aren’t given in any strict order or priority, other than #1. I realize that leadership is always situational, thus since no two are the same, we would expect the kinds and qualities of leadership needed will vary. However, I believe many of the ones I list will have a wide range of application to every context of leadership.
Character has to be at the top of the list. Without character—Christ-like character—a leader’s credibility will be lost and so will those who follow.
Knowledge of the Scriptures and how they relate to his leadership assignment.
Skills relative to an assignment are essential for effective and productive leadership.
Fearlessness is developed in obedience to the command Paul taught Timothy: “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear” (1 Tim. 1:7).
Change creators when it is essential to the mission of the church. The three-folds mission of (1) evangelism, (2) edification, and (3) equipping.
Love is expressed toward, God, brethren, and even one’s enemies. The qualities of 1 Corinthians 13 are his guidelines.
Attitude that is imitating Christ (cf. Phil. 2:4-9); knowing “as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Ethics are without question in every relationship and transaction in and out of the church.
Communication skills exist and are continually be honed to the finest point possible.
Self-discipline is a major factor and practice that keeps the spiritual leader in step with God’s word and demands.
Prayer is a perpetual practice in his daily life (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17), and something he shares with others.
Responsibilities are taken very seriously. He sees his mission as an “ambassador for Christ.” He must be faithful in every assignment and work.
Balance is a priority in his life. He is a team player. He takes time off to rest and recuperates. He knows stress is a killer.
Inspires and encourages others in the good and bad times.
Solutions are his main objectives in his position of leadership. He knows the end doesn’t come when you identify the problems. The solution is the next step.
Impartiality describes his fairness to others, as he treats everyone with respect and honor.
Flexibility describes his attitude when new ideas are presented or called for by others. His mind is not closed.
Diligence describes his work ethic. He believes Solomon’s words: “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.”
Desire characterizes his role as a leader. He desires to glorify God (Eph. 3:21), and help his followers get to heaven.
Faith describes his daily walk with the Lord. He knows he can’t please God with faith (Heb. 11:6; Rev. 2:10).
How will you intentionally apply this lesson to your leadership?